The involvement of parents and caregivers in the therapeutic process

The cornerstone of reconfiguring the psychodynamic approach for time- limited psychotherapy for children and young people is one that does not privilege individual therapy for children and young people in isolation from therapeutic work with parents and caregivers. The reason for this is that it is not solely the psychotherapist’s insight that will help the child. Rather, it is the therapist’s ability to communicate with the parents in a way that will facilitate the parents’ insight, which in turn will promote their understanding of the problem and their relationship with the child. Working with parents and caregivers through an interactive approach in which all parties are given voice, is therefore intrinsic to a time-limited approach of psychodynamic therapy with children and young people. It bears no relation to some traditional forms of child psychotherapy in which the child or young person’s therapy takes precedence, and in which parents are offered ‘parent guidance’ or seen once a term to give them feedback about their child’s progress with the psychotherapy. At the same time this model is not family therapy, and the focus is primarily on the child and their parents and caregivers, and tends not to involve other family members.

Two core elements become united when we include parents directly in the therapeutic process, which is that we widen the field of inquiry to explore how precisely the child and young person ‘speaks the family’. Paradoxically, by widening the field of inquiry in this way, the potential for understanding the problem and addressing it can be carried out in a relatively short space of time.

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