Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 79 Issue 1 (March 2006), Pages 1-149

The child's active role in mother–child, father–child psychotherapy: A psychodynamic approach to the treatment of relational disturbances (pages 23-36)

The short‐term mother–child and father–child psychoanalytic psychotherapy assumes that children develop specific types of relationships with each parent, as well as with the parenting couple. The model integrates an intra‐psychic, object‐relational view with an interpersonal perspective to the treatment of relational disturbances in childhood. The same therapist meets with the mother–child, father–child dyads on a weekly basis, along with regular meetings with the parental dyad. The model focuses on the developmentally prelatency child's need for the active participation of both parents in the here‐and‐now shared experiences of the therapeutic process. The participants express, in interactions and in enactments, various contents and meanings of their specific patterns of relations. The therapist addresses the behaviours as well as the meanings of relations, thus promoting reflective understanding and experiential changes in self, other, and self‐other relations. The child's active and different participation with each parent is the main change‐promoting factor. The child uses mainly the medium of play to express his/her needs and to mobilize the therapist's help. The therapist's access to the different dyads is utilized to better understand the explicit and implicit relational themes. The therapist supports the co‐construction of new and different behaviour patterns and the co‐creation of additional meanings to representations. The setup fosters the child's active participation in each dyad's growth‐promoting changes.

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