What Greenspan Floortime™ IS and What it IS NOT
Working with my father for many years, being trained by him for over 10 years, and having thousands of hours of conversations with him about his work has lead me to a number of conclusions about Greenspan Floortime. One of the most important realizations is that Greenspan Floortime is both a science and an art. Greenspan Floortime is a definitive and organized set of techniques and principals that create a standard of practice and application: the science. However knowing how and when to use each of the techniques requires interpretation, analysis, flexibility, and finesse: the art. Most beneficial curriculums have both features, using a one size fits all cookie cutter approach to children has proven to be unsuccessful. This doesn’t mean an approach should be completely void of systems either. This book will explore both sides of Greenspan Floortime, the science and the art. Before we start learning about what Greenspan Floortime “IS”, it is important to understand some misconceptions about it.
Through my experience practicing Greenspan Floortime for the last 15 years, I’ve met hundreds of professionals who said they were trained by my father and that they love my father’s work. Many of these therapists have even attained some level of “Floortime Certification”. While it is fantastic to hear what an impact he has had on these professionals, as I inquire about how they use his ideas I’m constantly disappointed. More often than not I come across a therapist who says they use Greenspan, Floortime, or DIR at their practice and they show off how they have his Developmental Milestones from his DIR Model on their wall. They explain to me that they work on these with their clients, but as I begin to watch what they do in their therapy sessions I see they provide traditional Sensory Integration OT, or play based Speech and Language Pathology. While there is nothing wrong with what they are doing, they are not actually practicing Greenspan Floortime or working on Dr. Greenspan’s developmental milestones as they claim. In other words, they don’t “practice what they preach”. In many instances in life we see this inconsistency, like with a friend who posts about clean eating and healthy lifestyles all over their social media, and then in person we see that they frequently want to go out to eat at some chain restaurant or fast food. Fortunately in many scenarios the only person who is effected by a misrepresentation is the person making the claim. However, in the case of Greenspan Floortime being misrepresented the family and especially the child are impacted.
When Dr. Greenspan created Floortime, he had a very specific definition of what it was and the philosophy behind it. One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that the first step of Greenspan Floortime, following the child’s lead, means just following the child around and letting the child do whatever they want. Oftentimes I’ve see trained and “Floortime Certified” therapists just walking/running behind the child as the child aimlessly moves from one object, activity, or place to another. While this is certainly following the child, it is not Greenspan Floortime. This version of following the child’s lead does not achieve the goals associated with Dr. Greenspan’s developmental model, mainly establishing interaction. In Greenspan Floortime, there are expectations, goals, and even boundaries and limits. Children are not just supposed to run free and do whatever they want, especially when it comes to health and safety. Part of following a child’s lead is knowing what they need and what is developmentally beneficial for them. This book will explore what it means to truly follow a child’s lead according to Dr. Greenspan.