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Copley, B. (1983). Work with a Family as a Single Therapist with Special Reference to Transference Manifestations. J. Child Psychother., 9(2):103-118.

(1983). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 9(2):103-118

Work with a Family as a Single Therapist with Special Reference to Transference Manifestations

Beta Copley

I propose to describe some work I did with a family as a single therapist with a view to thinking about working in this way, particularly in relation to transference manifestations. It has of course been necessary to make some changes for reasons of confidentiality so as to make the family unrecognizable to anyone but themselves.

Referral, Exploration, and Setting-up of Therapy

A Mother wrote to the clinic saying that her son, Sean, had various problems at school; she thought his future was uncertain there and asked for advice on what kind of school might be best for him and whether treatment would be appropriate. She described him as an intelligent, creative and likeable fourteen-year-old, but with an unusual personality. The school supported the referral. An initial family exploration was thought to be a good starting point on the basis of the Mother's apparent involvement with, and estimate of her son, although more formal methods of assessment might be called for later if a change of school was indicated. At that time the composition of the family was not known and I wrote offering to meet Mother and son together, adding that it would be useful, in my opinion, if other members of the family living at home could come too. The decision for me to see them alone was taken because a co-therapist was not available at the time.

Three members duly came. They were an Irish family: Mother, a singer, and called by her first name, Mary, by the children; Sean, a tall, gangling, frail young-looking fourteen year old, and his older sister Dawn, seventeen, also tall and thin, made up the family living at home.

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