Theraplay and MIM

For Parents

Theraplay® is a child and family therapy based program of sessions that focuses on improving the child’s behavioral and emotional challenges through the parent-child relationship. In a session, the therapist guides the parent and child through playful games, challenging activities, and nurturing interactions. Theraplay helps the child experience previously difficult interactions in new ways, helps overcome fear and increase trust, and creates a positive change in the child’s sense of self. Theraplay® helps the parent be attuned to the child, understand the motives of the child’s behavior and the underlying needs, manage environmental stimuli, and carefully challenge the child in a safe place. While other therapies may work primarily with the child alone or work with parents on managing the child’s behaviors, Theraplay focuses on the parent-child relationship as the most powerful and influential element for change.

How does Theraplay® differ from other types of child therapy or Play Therapy ?

  • It directly involves the parents or caregivers
  • It is active, interpersonal and fun—not “talk therapy”
  • Progress can be made quickly
  • It focuses on the “here and now,” not what happened in the past
  • Since it does not involve verbal or symbolic understanding, it can be used with very young children, children with developmental delays and children with traumatic experiences early in life
  • The “Theraplay way” flows easily from the clinical setting to the home for long-term results
  • Theraplay treatment is appropriate for all ages—infancy through adolescence

Theraplay® has been used successfully to help children experiencing a variety of challenges:

  • Acting out, angry or disruptive behavior
  • Defiant or controlling behavior
  • Shy, withdrawn or clingy behavior
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and Selective Mutism
  • Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and other Developmental Disorders
  • Attention and hyperactivity concerns
  • Social interaction
  • A history of trauma or neglect
  • Attachment issues due to adoption or multiple family placements
  • Medical trauma

MIM Assessment

The MIM is a structured technique for observing and assessing the overall quality and nature of relationships between the caregiver and child. It consists of a series of simple tasks designed to elicit behaviours in four key aspects in order to evaluate the caregivers’ capacity to:

  • Set limits and provide an appropriately ordered environment (Structure)
  • Engage the child in interaction while being attuned to the child’s state (Engagement)
  • Meet the child’s needs for attention, soothing and care (Nurture)
  • Support and encourage the child’s efforts to achieve at a developmentally appropriate level (Challenge)
  • And the child’s ability to respond to the caregivers’ efforts

The MIM takes from 30 to 60 minutes and is conducted in a manner to minimise stress for the child and adult – playful interaction is the aim. There are sets of tasks designed to be used in each of four age groups: infant, toddler, pre-school/school age, and adolescent. Materials needed to perform the tasks are provided and clear instructions are given to support the families. In addition to allowing a closer look at complex problem areas in the relationship, the MIM provides a unique opportunity for observing the strengths of both adult and child and of their relationship. It is, therefore, a valuable tool in planning for treatment and in determining how to help families strengthen their relationships. The description of the relationship that results from this observation is a valuable aid in determining the appropriateness of custody arrangements, reunification, foster placement and/or adoption. While the MIM provides useful information about the way two people interact, it is important that other sources such as case management data, interviews and other types of assessments be taken into account when major decisions such as change of placement or permanent placement are being considered.