The Theory Behind Child Oriented Family Therapy
The theory behind the BOF model draws upon many well known and accepted theories within the areas of both child psychology and family therapy. This can be illustrated by the “therapy triangle” pictured below.
|Psycho-Dynamic Child Psychotherapy
(developmental psychology, play, symbols)
(relationships, interaction, system theory)
(concrete actions, training, practice)
Three important concepts in BOF
Child Oriented Family Therapy focuses on interaction; more specifically, the concrete interactions between therapist and child, as well as parents and child during the play session. Most often, the play takes place in the sandbox, but other play/interaction situations can be chosen, such as rolling a boll between parent and child. With older children more creative forms of play can be chosen, such as sculpturing with clay or painting. Despite which form of play is used, the goal is still the same; to see and to understand the child’s and the family’s interaction patterns.
In these interaction situations the therapist gets an idea of the attachment patterns established with in the family. BOF often proves to be a way to set the stage for the development of attachments between child and parent. This is seen, for example, with adoptive and foster families or in families with children born prematurely. BOF is the method of choice in families where the child´s early attachment to mother and father was delayed or prematurely broken off.
Sometimes parents need the help of the therapist to discover the different “selves” within the child. Play provides the framework for the child to choose different ways to present its “self” and “parts of self”. Besides the angry, forceful crocodile the aggressive 7-year old has chosen to represent his “self” the same child might also show a part of his “self” in the form of a little lost piglet or duckling which prefers to lay on a pillow and sleep. How do the parents react to these different “selves” that the child presents? Through play together with the parents the therapists can help the child to gradually pull together all of their “selves” into a complete and integrated whole.