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Brady, M. (2006). Working with Parents Makes Therapy Work by Kerry Kelly Novick & Jack Novick New York: Jason Aronson, 2005; 196 pp.. Fort Da, 12(2):103-107.

(2006). Fort Da, 12(2):103-107

Working with Parents Makes Therapy Work by Kerry Kelly Novick & Jack Novick New York: Jason Aronson, 2005; 196 pp.

Reviewed by
Mary Brady, Ph.D.

Rather than develop analytic forms that recognize a child as profoundly located within the unconscious life of a family, child analysis has traditionally relegated work with parents to a background role due to a mistaken mimicry of adult analytic forms. Many of us trained in this tradition learned the hard way that a child treatment can be quickly and even tragically aborted due to insufficient attention to the threat the parents experience from the child analytic work. Understanding a child's problems almost invariably throws light on parental difficulties and unconscious familial modes of operating, and facing these realizations is often quite difficult for parents to bear. The Novicks’ book is a genuine corrective to the neglect of the critical nature of work with parents and, as such, would be useful to any child analyst or therapist.

The Novicks advocate forestalling the child's entrance into treatment until a significant piece of work has been done with the parents. This allows the analyst to assess the parents and develop a working relationship with them, as well as to determine whether the child's symptoms can be addressed through work with the parents without the necessity of a child analysis or therapy. They describe this evaluative phase as an opportunity to begin a series of transformations within the parents — for instance from guilt and denial of the contribution they may have made to their child's anxieties to recognition of this contribution in a way that allows for genuine healing.

The Novicks emphasize the establishment of a therapeutic alliance with the parents — indeed, a necessary and desirable goal. However, I find that this emphasis minimizes the need to be prepared for deeply irrational forces within the family, frequently demonstrated by unfolding projective identifications within the parental work. Likewise, the Novicks postulate beginning, middle, pretermination, and termination phases to work with parents.

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