Making practical changes: Working together as a parenting team

As the therapeutic work progresses, we will have helped parents to gain some insight into how and why the embedded problem in the young person has arisen in the first instance, which is the prelude to their beginning to make practical changes within the household in not continuing to ‘service’ the problem. This involves supporting them to not respond to the usual demands of the young person, not to engage in any rituals and, to try to limit their angry and exasperated responses whilst holding firm. It is important to encourage parents to work together as a parenting team rather than for one parent to have to deal with the struggle while the other parent quietly creeps away. Helping parents to understand the developmental issues for the young person is crucial. We may hypothesise that the embedded problem has served to infantilise the adolescent and young person. The resulting anxiety and at times rigidity on their part, may have prohibited them from participating fully in social life with their peers. Classic Oedipal struggles are also at play here and in many cases represent a revival of earlier unresolved infantile experiences.

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