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Novick, J. Novick, K.K. (2000). Parent Work in Analysis: Children, Adolescents, and Adults: Part One: The Evaluation Phase. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 1(4):55-77.

(2000). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 1(4):55-77

Parent Work in Analysis: Children, Adolescents, and Adults: Part One: The Evaluation Phase

Jack Novick, Ph.D. and Kerry Kelly Novick

Why is there so little written on parent work when all experienced child analysts will aver that such work is essential for the successful conduct of treatment? The first child analysis (Freud 1909) was conducted via the parent, and a close study of one of Anna Freud's earliest cases reveals the extent to which she did parent work as part of her treatment of the school-aged Peter Heller (Heller 1990). Yet, when writing on child analysis and therapy, analysts often either ignore parent work or relegate it to a minor function, such as the gathering of information (Glenn et al. 1978). In this paper, we will describe some possible causes for the omission of parent work from mainstream consideration, look at some of the formulations that have been made, and suggest a framework for thinking about working with the parents of child and adolescent patients. The framework we will use is our revised concept of the therapeutic alliance, which includes the alliance between therapist and parents or significant others. In brief, we use the therapeutic alliance as a lens to highlight those aspects of the therapeutic relationship that spring from unconscious and conscious, irrational and rational motives to do analytic work.

The utility of our revised theory was exemplified in papers about two clinical cases presenting sadomasochistic resistances to the accomplishment of phase-specific alliance tasks (Novick and Novick 1996, 1998). In further papers on working with parents we will look at parental tasks for each phase of treatment, for each age group, from preschool children to late adolescents. We will apply what we learn about resistances at each phase to enhance our understanding of work with parents at subsequent phases. Consistent with our view that each phase influences and is influenced by subsequent phases, we will also apply what we have learned to techniques of psychoanalytic work with adults.

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