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Joyce, A.F. (2003). Relational Dynamics in the Family: Parallel Psychotherapy with Children and Parents by Barbara Piovano (New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1998; 216 pages). Brit. J. Psychother., 19(4):525-529.

(2003). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 19(4):525-529

Review Essay

Relational Dynamics in the Family: Parallel Psychotherapy with Children and Parents by Barbara Piovano (New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1998; 216 pages)

Review by:
Angela F. Joyce

Parallel Psychotherapy with Children and Parents is an account by an Italian psychoanalyst and child psychiatrist of her development of a model for treatment of predominantly severely disturbed children and their families in both a private and public health setting. In many ways it could be said that this book is truly innovative as it shows the author's learning from her experience and in so doing pushing back the frontiers of the method of treatment as well as her conceptual understanding of the territory in which she is working. She is open to new ways of intervening as well as understanding and thus shows herself to be a true researcher, prepared for her previously held assumptions and ways of going about treatment to be replaced by something new and different.

Barbara Piovano describes her pioneering model of the parallel psychoanalytic psychotherapy for the referred child and parent (usually the mother) in a publicly funded child guidance setting where the psychotherapists were then jointly supervised. It was later extended to use within private practice where Piovano brought together a number of therapists trained in child and adult psychoanalysis. The field thus created reflected and allowed expression of the relational dynamics within the family in such a way that they could be considered and worked with by the team of psychotherapists and supervisor. Traditionally this would have been seen as risking ‘contamination’ of each treatment by factors extraneous to that setting, which was protected so that the transference-countertransference matrix was most purely available for interpretation.

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