Regulation Focused Psychotherapy for Children (RFP-C) is a psychodynamic treatment approach for children with disruptive behavior disorders. RFP-C consists of 16 individual play therapy sessions plus 4 sessions with the child’s caregiver(s) only. The basis for the therapeutic process in RFP-C is that all behavior has meaning and that some children engage in disruptive behaviors as a way to avoid experiencing painful or threatening emotions such as guilt, shame, and sadness. 

The goals of child sessions are to:

  1. Identify which of the child’s emotions are being avoided

  2. Understand how the emotion is being avoided 

  3. Explore why the emotion is being avoided in a maladaptive way

The goals of caregiver sessions are to:

  1. Obtain clinical background information

  2. Develop the therapeutic alliance

  3. Provide psycho-education to aid in caregivers’ understanding of the child’s difficulties

The ultimate goal of RFP-C is to help the caregiver and child understand that all behavior, even disruptive behavior, has meaning in the service of emotional and behavioral regulation. This insight leads to a decreased need to act on the distressing emotions (i.e. less need for disruptive behaviors) and an increased ability to tolerate, work through, and talk about the feelings that previously needed to be warded off.

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