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Piovano, B. (2004). Parenthood and Parental Functions as a Result of the Experience of Parallel Psychotherapy with Children and Parents. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 13(3):187-200.

(2004). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 13(3):187-200

Parenthood and Parental Functions as a Result of the Experience of Parallel Psychotherapy with Children and Parents

Barbara Piovano

The concept of parenthood as defined in classical theory and later theorizations is discussed. Parenthood is defined as a transformative process, activated by the idea of having a child and by interaction with the child, through which a constellation of affective and psychic capacities is developed, promoting growth and psychic change and evolving over time. Parental functions, rather than being learnable skills, are considered as mind functions linked to character traits that cannot be split from the personality as a whole and are, as such, susceptible to improvement through psychotherapeutic work. The author illustrates this with a model of psychotherapies and parallel analyses of parents and children tested and elaborated in public and private practice, showing its therapeutic and cognitive advantages. The central thesis of the paper is that whatever the approach and working method with the parents, the therapeutic space offered encourages certain processes that are vital for the structuring of the self and the psychic growth of the child: creation of a space for the representation and emotional investment of the child; improvement in the parental functions; and identification with the therapist as a new or reactivated developmental object. Two clinical cases illustrate the parallel evolution of therapeutic relationships and of the parent-child relationship.

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