Filial Therapy


Filial therapy is a modern approach to treating patients with Alzheimer’s and other diseases of the brain. It was developed by Dr. Lajos Egri in Hungary, where it has been practiced for more than fifty years. In this form of psychotherapy, family members serve as surrogate therapists to help their loved one recover from mental illness or an addiction. 

Filial therapy relies on relationships between parent and child that are established long before symptoms appear. The children learn how to care for their parents from observing them when they were healthy and well-functioning adults, so they can step in when symptoms start to show themselves later on in life.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive cognitive and memory impairments.

This disorder affects the regions of the brain important to memory, language, and reasoning. Symptoms progress from mild impairment in one area to severe disability in several domains and typically include: decreased ability to communicate; inability to carry out daily activities such as dressing oneself or preparing meals; disorientation to time or place; loss of initiative.

Since play is the area where children are most open, the easiest way to reach children is through play. Therefore Filial Therapy, is a therapy method that aims to strengthen the parent-child relationship by using the game. The child starts exploring, learning, and being happy through play, starting from infancy. The effect of playing games on babies and children has been scientifically proven.

What is Filial Therapy?

Filial Therapy is a psycho-educational approach applied to parents and children between the ages of 3-10 and developed to understand the child. In filial therapy, parents learn how to handle special playtime with their children.

Thanks to this approach, the mother and father learn to play therapeutic games with the child, to understand what the child wants to tell in the game, to get down to the inner world of the child, to follow the child’s development, and to establish a better relationship with the child. The child, on the other hand, learns to express his emotions better, develop problem-solving skills and increase his self-confidence.

In play therapy, play sessions are made directly with the child and separate meetings are held with the mother and father, while in filial therapy, the therapist conducts play sessions with the mother and father. Filial therapy directly involves parents in the process because parents are the most important people in a child’s life. For this reason, parents are more prominent in comparing the child’s behaviors during play with their daily behavior. 

Thanks to this approach, they learn more about their children and gain a new skill that they can use after therapy ends. This skill helps them to prevent various future problems with their children in advance and solve potential problems. In addition, filial therapy is a fun approach for both the child and parents, which facilitates the change process and strengthens the parent-child relationship.

Last Updated on December 3, 2021 by William Lindberg

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He is studying psychology in Canada. Lucas also volunteers helping elderly people in nursing homes. Lucas, who is especially interested in hypnotherapy, continues his education and research in this field.

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