Taking a therapeutic history of the parents

Similarly to taking the child’s history, taking a history of the parents’ lives and childhood experiences, has a particular power as it goes beyond the bare assembling of facts and offers parents the opportunity to hear themselves perhaps for the first time discuss issues that may never previously have been discussed, or were overlooked. The simple request to hear the parents’ story of their lives as children growing up, can be made by saying that the way we were parented, influences the way we parent our children. This simple statement offers parents respite from the pressing problem of what to do about their child’s problem. It also immediately opens up the communication and moves from one that starts off as linear and individually centred, to one that becomes interactive, multi-faceted and inter-generational. For example, where a child presents with particular social and communication problems, a question about whether anyone else in either family may have had a similar problem, will probably initially elicit a negative response whereas the exploration of the history as it unfolds, may reveal a description of a brother or sister who had very similar problems.

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