Theraplay Level One is the first step when working for Theraplay certification. It is open to beginning and more experienced mental health and educational professionals.

Description: Theraplay is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others and joyful engagement.  Level One training prepares participants to begin using Theraplay Informed Practice in their work.  

  • Theraplay is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge. Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding. In treatment, the Theraplay therapist 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. The Level I Training includes:

    - Principles of attachment theory on an intellectual and experiential level
    - The Four Dimensions of Theraplay
    - The Theraplay protocol
    - An introduction to the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM): administration, analysis and as a guide for treatment planning
    - Adapting Theraplay for working with children and families impacted by complex trauma and other populations
    - Managing resistance throughout the treatment process
    - Managing countertransference in your work  with children and families
    - Implementing Theraplay into your practice

Learning Objectives for Level One Theraplay & MIM

  • Differentiate three play, attachment-based theories and how they support the work of Theraplay
  • Differentiate how children with various attachment styles present in play therapy sessions
  • Explain the benefits of using the MIM in your play therapy practice
  • Arrange the MIM play therapy assessment tool
  • Analyze the MIM at a beginning level to benefit families in play therapy
  • Construct a play therapy treatment plan based upon the MIM analysis
  • Classify three play therapy goals to be achieved during a MIM feedback session with parents
  • Describe the four dimensions of Theraplay, a modality of play therapy
  • Demonstrate one play-based activity from each dimension: Structure, Engagement, Nurture and Challenge.
  • Describe three possible ways of adapting Theraplay into play therapy treatment to meet the needs of a child with complex trauma
  • Describe how to guide parents to participate in a Theraplay, a modality of play therapy, in treatment session
  • Show how to prepare parents to use Theraplay play therapy techniques at home to further therapeutic goals
  • Describe how various parent attachment styles present in play therapy sessions
  • Demonstrate adapting Theraplay play therapy techniques to three different populations of families
  • Apply Theraplay techniques to work through resistance in play therapy sessions
  • Show how to adapt Theraplay activities for children of different ages
  • Explain how to prepare for termination of Theraplay treatment
  • Analyze how the clinician is impacted by the functioning of parents and children in play therapy sessions
  • Identify two types of clients for whom Theraplay would not be an appropriate play therapy modality

For complete details on Theraplay certification and training opportunities, visit the Theraplay Institute site: