Parents' relationship to therapist, service, and parent worker

Harris (1968) describes the importance of careful attention being paid to the feelings and phantasies of a child or adolescent patient's parents about the therapy and the therapist. She notes the unconscious anxiety and guilt so often felt by parents when their child comes for therapy:

Somewhere in every parent still exist the little girl and boy who are convinced that they can never become a proper mother or father. When things go wrong, this little girl in the mother feels found out and projects upon the therapist her super-ego picture of her own internal mother who is going to blame her and take the child away because of her presumption and bad management. [p. 53]

Houzel (2000), with work with autistic children particularly in mind, argues that the therapeutic alliance with parents must be established during preliminary meetings, as "a true therapeutic alliance with the parents can be agreed upon once they themselves have witnessed attempts at understanding through interpretations and commentaries" (p. 122). This early alliance will be a "reference point" for the remainder of the therapy, when it will need to be sustained through regular review meetings. Review meetings allow the parents or carers direct (though limited) access to their child's therapist's views regarding the emotional life of their child, including what the young person may need from the parents, and about the progress of the work. Rustin (2009b) suggests that "at their best, such meetings can offer a real chance to integrate diverse perspectives and to enrich the understanding of both parents and therapist, but they can also be difficult occasions in which divergences in aim between therapist and parent may erupt" (p. 210). (Initial meetings and the review process for STPP are described below.)

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