A retrospective narrative review of filial therapy as a school-based mental health intervention

Jane Cooper, Ted Brown, Mong lin Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Filial therapy is a mental health intervention for children originally designed to address mental health clinician shortages by leveraging the time and skills of the clinician to resource the people who spend the most time with the child, rather than being directly involved in the child's treatment. The current mental health climate in many parts of the world is not dissimilar to the context in which the original filial therapy model was developed, in that there is a disparity between a demanding problem and a shortage in supply of specialist services. There remains a need in school settings for effective interventions to address social, emotional and behavioral problems in children and there is a gap in the degree of reporting on the impact of filial therapy in school settings despite a body of literature supporting the efficacy of the intervention more broadly. This retrospective narrative literature review provides a summary of current and past research publications about filial therapy as a school-based intervention and its effect on student functioning. A thorough search of the literature resulted in an initial 34 publications, 23 of which remained following application of the exclusion criteria. In this article, we adopted the IMRaD (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) approach to reviewing the literature with reference to Ferrari's (2015) recommended framework for narrative reviews. Overall support for the use of school-based filial therapy interventions was determined given their positive influence on children's functional outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-95
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Play Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Child mental health
  • Filial therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Rural mental health
  • School-based intervention

Cite this