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Cregeen, S. (2017). A place within the heart: finding a home with parental objects. J. Child Psychother., 43(2):159-174.

(2017). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 43(2):159-174


A place within the heart: finding a home with parental objects

Simon Cregeen

For adopted and Looked After children with compromised early experiences, there can be troubling phantasies and anxieties associated with parental objects. These internal object relations can seriously restrict the development of secure intimate relationships with new parental figures. Adoptive parents and foster carers bear the brunt of the associated difficulties. Clinical work with the child, parents/carers, family, or network, may help processes of containment, differentiation, working through, mourning, and integration. This paper is based on thinking derived from clinical work with children who are adopted or Looked After, and with adoptive parental couples, carers, and networks. The primary focus is on how the child needs to find a ‘psychic home’ in the minds of others for their damaged internal parental objects, and the emotional capacities required in adoptive parents to provide this. I describe some of the complexities for adoptive parents and others in providing what is needed to enable the child to experience their internal parental objects in a fuller way. This process can allow the child to introject, identify with, and re-imagine their internal parental objects, and through this develop a more realistic relationship to their adoptive parents and to their birth parents. It promotes trust, freedom, and emotional depth in the relationship with parental figures.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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