“Theraplay has been indescribably beneficial for our family, and I don’t like to think of where we would be without it”
Theraplay has been indescribably beneficial for our family, and I don’t like to think of where we would be without it. Prior to starting Theraplay, our eldest (aged 6 and with us for 18 months) was displaying a lot of distressed behaviour, including anger, violence, inability to self-regulate, spitting, and controlling behaviour. We were struggling to cope and were at a low point of exhaustion and worry.
Theraplay has provided a gentle, targeted way to start tackling the underlying issues that drive his distressed behaviours, tailored to his needs and his responses week on week. It has provided professional assessment of his particular developmental gaps, emotional age and needs, and deep seated-fears, and it has done so in a way that felt enjoyable to our son. He loves his Theraplay sessions: it is clear that they are giving him something he needs at a very primal level.
Theraplay has provided a safe space where he can show us his true responses and feelings with no judgement, and where I as primary care-giver get support from a professional on how best to respond and help him regulate. In parallel with the sessions we are receiving professional feedback on his progress and explanations of what we can understand from his behaviours, where he is developmentally, and what things to concentrate on next. Having someone else shoulder that weight, even if it is only a couple of hours a fortnight, has been immensely valuable for my own well-being.
We have also been able to use the sessions to develop tools for him and us to identify his emotions, and to help manage them, and to bring him back to his thinking brain when he dips into fight/flight.
We are so grateful for the progress this has helped our boy make. The frequency of his rages and anger are reducing, and on a good day he is more able/willing to let us help him re-regulate. Previously the only emotion he could allow himself was anger, but he is now able to express sadness and to seek comfort from us when sad.
There is no doubt in my mind that his recent progress in developing a stronger and more trusting attachment with us is due to Theraplay. Previously he was desperate to love and be loved, but due to his early years trauma and neglect, he just could not allow himself to risk it. Theraplay has provided him with some of the early-years bonding, nurture, shared joy and being cared for experiences that he missed out on, which in turn is letting him open himself up to trusting that we will look after him and keep him safe. For the first time our son is allowing himself to express his feelings of love for his family: they have come pouring out of him and he is delighting in the reciprocal feelings of loving and being loved.
As parents, we feel much more supported and hopeful for the future since starting Theraplay. The feedback and analysis we receive takes a huge weight off our shoulders and leaves us with more emotional energy to help him through his distressed behaviours. Theraplay hasn’t just helped him to love us, but has created moments and bonds that have helped our love for him start to evolve from conscious and determined to natural. I cannot fully describe how much that means to me, or how important it is for him to be loved as he deserves to be.
In the 6 months since starting Theraplay our family has moved from crisis mode to a place that feels comfortable and hopeful. We are seeing more and more of the beautiful, engaging boy underneath the trauma, and we have hope for that boy having a happy life and a positive future.
We have a long way to go before many ‘normal’ childhood activities are comfortable for him. With ongoing Theraplay we hope to keep making progress.