Empowering Nondeployed Spouses and Children Through Filial Therapy

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Abstract

Military deployments are highly stressful for nondeployed spouses and their children. Military children often experience a range of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, as well as a decrease in attachment security. Nondeployed parents are challenged during their spouses’ deployment cycles, as they assume the role of single parent in addition to all the financial and daily responsibilities. Evidence-based interventions, such as Filial Therapy, can assist the parent–child relationship by allowing for the attachment relationship to strengthen during a difficult time like deployment. Filial Therapy is derived from child-centered play therapy and teaches parents to play with their children to express and gain mastery over difficult and confusing thoughts and feelings. This article aims to educate therapists about the complex experiences of nondeployed spouses and their children and highlight the benefits of using Filial Therapy with this population.

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