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Attachment Informed Therapy

Attachment Informed Therapy

Attachment is a relational bond.  It has both a protective and an exploratory function.  Through a gentle, warm, playful, loving and nurturing relationship, an emotional connection will develop for the child to their primary caregiver.

If the child’s primary caregiver has been reliable, attuned to their needs and empathised with their feelings and emotional states, they will feel secure when things go wrong.  If a child has grown up experiencing neglect or different kinds of trauma and toxic stress ie: relational trauma, domestic violence, death, parental addiction, they may develop an insecure pattern and grow up feeling negatively about themselves and others.  

Attachment informed therapy includes a range of integrated therapeutic interventions which combines well researched methods of attachment theory, trauma recovery models and creative arts therapies.  These are available to Birth Families, Adoptive Families and Families with Permanently Placed Children and Adolescents.

The aim of these interventions is to support the parent to become engaged through strengthening the emotional connections with their child.  A child can feel securely attached by feeling more loved, valued and respected, which will help to reduce their emotional distress and increase their levels of relaxation.  Meaning, that lives can be transformed for the parent/carer and child.


The primary focus of Theraplay® is to create an active and empathetic connection between the child and parent/carer.  It is based on the natural patterns of healthy interactions and focuses on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Nurture, Engagement and Challenge.  Parents/Carers are included in the process from the beginning and often join in the play sessions later.   Theraplay® sessions are active, intense, physical, nurturing and fun.

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) is an integrative method of psychotherapy that was initially developed for the treatment of children and young people who experienced trauma and loss; including looked after children and adopted children.

DDP involves creating a safe environment in which the child/young person can begin to explore, resolve and integrate memories, emotions and current experiences that are frightening, shameful, avoided or denied. Both the therapist and parent/carer remain present for the child/young person to ensure that they are not alone whilst entering a painful experience.

Filial Play Therapy

Filial Play Therapy combines Play Therapy with Family Therapy, strengthening families and enhancing the parent-child relationship. It is an alternative method for treating emotionally troubled children in which the parent/carer acts as an agent for change in their child’s life.

Filial Therapists are qualified Play Therapists who have undergone further intensive training in this approach. They work in partnership with the parent/carer in a carefully supervised way, training them in the basic principles of non-directive play. The parent/carer will learn and practice new skills with the Filial Therapist and then use them in a special weekly play time with their child.

Sensory Attachment Psychotherapy

Sensory Attachment Psychotherapy is an integrative approach which combines attachment theory, neurobiology and sensory integration to formulate an attachment based therapeutic intervention for the individual child and adult.

When the brain does not process information efficiently, it can lead to sensory integration difficulties in everyday life; home, school, work and other settings.  It can be a struggle for others to make sense of the child’s/adult’s behaviour which can appear inconsistent and unpredictable.

The main focus of Sensory Attachment Psychotherapy is to offer simple strategies in the context of attachment to help the child or adult with their emotional and social well-being in the context of relationships.

Creative Therapeutic Life Story Work

Children and young people who have been separated from their birth families are often denied the opportunity to explore and discuss their feelings about their past.  Life story work is one of the key therapeutic approaches in working with adopted or looked after children as they make sense of belonging to both the birth and adoptive/foster families.

Creative Therapeutic Life Story works through the use of play and creative art activities to help the child express themselves in the media of their choice within a safe way.

Although the sessions are not specifically therapy, they are led by the therapist so that emotional responses and difficult reactions of the child/young person can be contained and managed safely.  Parents/Carers are included in all sessions and are actively encouraged to join in, which provides opportunity for the child to share their experiences and feelings.The aim is to construct a concrete sequential narrative of the child’s history to the present day, because their sense of time and sequencing can become muddled, due to their sense of self and internal working model from which they view all relationships and environments, which can be distorted as a result of developmental trauma.  In Creative Therapeutic Life Story work, activities which are relational, repetitive, relevant and rewarding can help the child to recover from trauma by increasing regulation of stress response systems in the brain (Bruce Perry, 2006).

It is important that the work is not seen in isolation as there may be a need for continued support after, including therapy sessions and consultations for the parents/carers to prevent destabilization or a sense of abandonment.

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