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Parents and Daughter

Services for Families

At Hands on Play Therapy 


Dyadic Developmental Psycotherapy

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that can help form and repair connections and attachment between children, young people and their parent/carers. This type of therapy can help children/young people who find it hard to feel safe and secure with parents, due to difficult or traumatic early life experiences. These early experiences can result in the young person experiencing high levels of anxiety that result in them wanting to control their relationships and struggle with their emotions. This type of therapy involves working closely with parents/carers to help the young person feel more emotionally secure.

It is most often used with children and young people who have suffered developmental trauma.



Theraplay is an evidence-based dyadic child and family therapy that has been recognized by the Association of Play Therapy as one of the seminal and historically significant play therapy approaches for children. Developed over 50 years ago, and practiced around the world, Theraplay was developed for any professional working to support healthy child/caregiver attachment. Strong attachment between the child and the important adults in their life has long been believed to be the basis of lifelong good mental health as well as the mainstay of resilience in the face of adversity. Modern brain research and the field of neuroscience have shown that attachment is the way in which children come to understand, trust and thrive in their world.

In treatment, the Theraplay Practitioner guides the parent and child through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent regulate the child's behavior and communicate love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy.

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Therapeutic Life Story Work

For children who have been removed from the care of their birth family and suffered placement breakdowns or transitions, their life history can be extremely fragmented, leaving the child feeling lost and with no sense of belonging (Perry, 2012). This can impact hugely on their well-being and make the child very vulnerable in their present and future.

Therapeutic Life Story Work empowers a child’s voice and provides them with a safe space to feel and express their thoughts and emotions when making sense of past experiences and the relationship these have to their current thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

The Therapeutic Life Story Model consists of three stages; The Information Bank, the Internalisation and the Life Story Book. 


‘The Information Bank’ – This stage involves the careful and an in-depth gathering of historical information pertaining to the child; both pre-and post-birth. Within this stage the TLS practitioner collates both written and physical sources to provide greater insight into the child’s early life experiences. This then helps to identify the gaps in the child’s history and where the information needs to be sourced from to collate a detailed and factual narrative for the child to guide their therapeutic life story sessions.This narrative then lends knowledge to the child’s trauma and provides insight into the child’s primary attachment and their Internal Working Model, which is how the child perceives themselves, others and the world around them. For many adopted and foster children, the ‘unknown’ of their life history can be extremely fragmented, confusing and often frightening,Establishing this knowledge is key in preparing and planning for the interventions within the second stage of the Therapeutic Life Story work: Internalisation.


‘The Internalisation’ – Within this stage the narrative is divided into session plans prior to the work commencing, typically over a 12 – 18 session period. Stage two isn’t just about reading the narrative to the child, careful planning and preparation is used to provide the child with focused therapeutic inventions to sensitively support the areas highlighted within the Information Bank.Through this therapeutic process and the relationship with their carer, the child can develop further insight into their responses to trauma (developed in order to protect and keep themselves safe). Often this can present in a variety of behaviours and without knowledge of the child’s history it is difficult to see the communication behind them. By supporting the child’s awareness of this and the influences it has upon their present, there is an opportunity to change, move forward and develop a positive sense of self. The experience of this journey supports the therapeutic understanding and care provided for the child within their family home. 


‘The Life Story Book’ –  This stage is completed towards the conclusion of a child’s journey. It comprises the information and the work completed by the child within the sessions. The child is fully involved in selecting the design, fonts, and illustrations. This then helps the child to take ownership over their work and aid understanding of their journey and its importance.     

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Emotionally Focused Family Therapy

Emotionally Focused Family Therapy ― follows the principles and practices of Emotionally Focused Therapy to restore connection and promote resilience in family relationships. The principle goal of EFFT is to re-establish more secure family patterns where attachment and caregiving responses are effective and emotional bonds are repaired. These resources inform a network of security that provides the flexibility and closeness necessary for families to promote individual growth and meaningful relationships across generations.

The EFFT Approach

The EFT process of change in EFFT focuses on stabilizing a family’s negative interaction pattern, restructuring parent and child interactions, and consolidating the felt security gained through these new patterns of connection. Following principles of attachment science, the EFT therapist guides the family to new patterns of parental availability, responsiveness and coherent attachment communications as they face developmental change and life challenges. In EFFT, the focus is on addressing blocks in parental caregiving responses and understanding the child or adolescent’s behavior in terms of attachment needs or fears. These blocks result from constrained, stuck responses to mis-attunement and injuries in family relationships. The EFT therapist tracks the generational influences impacting these blocks and works through rigid patterns that disrupt attachment communication between parents, siblings and between parent and child. Work with parents focuses on the building of a coherent parenting team. The process of EFFT often moves quickly as family members become more responsive, accessible, and engaged with previously unacknowledged attachment-related emotions and needs.


  • Accessing and expanding awareness of unacknowledged feelings associated with the family’s negative pattern.

  • Reframing family distress and child problems within relation blocks reinforcing this distress.

  • Promoting awareness and access to underlying caregiving intentions and disowned attachment
    related needs.

  • Facilitating the sharing of unmet attachment needs and effective caregiving responses.

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