What is Theraplay?

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People talk about unconditional love, and I was put to the test to understand what that really means. My husband and I entered into a special needs adoption with a five-year old boy. Within one week the boy became intolerable to me, and abusive and violent towards others. He bit, scratched and threatened to kill me with a knife. He would bang his head and mutilate himself.  He needed physical restraint at least five to seven times a day. By seven o’clock every morning, I had lost my temper, and a bad day would begin. I was scared, angry and sad. I had been in an abusive relationship myself, and now I was a victim of a five-year-old boy! What would he be like by eight years old? Would I be able to make a difference?

We had to call on emergency services for our family, and after several types of therapy, our relationship was still not working.  Then, my adoption agency recommended Theraplay. Theraplay taught me how to take charge without dominating his spirit.  I learned to choose my battles and turn his upsetting behavior into cooperation. Theraplay created a true bond with him. It gave him one-on-one time with me, and I looked forward to the session every week as a kind of reprieve.

My son is a whole new boy. I have not had to restrain him in months, and there is no more self-mutilation. He is compassionate, loveable and considerate. He can play and take turns, and he trusts adults. He turned six recently, and I feel that there is so much hope now. When we first came to The Theraplay Institute, we were afraid that we could not be the forever family we had promised him. Now we can fulfill that promise. If I had not come to The Theraplay Institute, we would probably not be together today.


*Note:  These Theraplay stories are all told by real clients, but their names are being withheld or changed to protect their privacy.