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Nilsson, M. (2006). To Be the Sole Therapist: Children and Parents in Simultaneous Psychotherapy. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 5(2):206-225.

(2006). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 5(2):206-225

To Be the Sole Therapist: Children and Parents in Simultaneous Psychotherapy

May Nilsson

The term Secure base Describes how the Child, with its caregiver as point of departure, explores the world and how the world regulates the child's emotional status (Bowlby, 1988). In the same way, security, in the form of frames, times, and not least, the therapist's ability to relate to the child and the parents is of importance to how the therapeutic relationship develops. The initial sessions are of paramount importance if a secure therapeutic alliance is to be established.

In child psychotherapy today, different therapeutic methods can be used. Various therapy models focus on the child (Piovani, 1998; Rustin, 1998), the parents (Klauber, 1991; Tsiantis et al. 2000), mother-infant/child psychotherapy (Cramer, 2000; Rustin, 1998; Barrows, 1999; Pozzi, 2003), or simultaneous psychotherapy with parents and the child (Burlingham, Goldberg, and Lussier, 1955; Chazan, 2003).

My intention with this article is to address some of the issues that might occur when one considers working as a sole therapist in the simultaneous psychotherapy of parent and child. Special emphasis is given to the choice of whether or not to be a sole therapist. The article is based on my clinical experience and might serve as a guide for therapists interested in the area.

In this model, the therapist initially meets the parents without the child and then conducts one or two family sessions. The initial sessions help the therapist to clarify the problem, to assess the relationships in the family system, and to decide whether to be a sole therapist. When the individual psychotherapy starts, the child attends once a week, and the parents, if possible, attend with the same frequency. The frames for the therapeutic contact may vary from short-term therapy to therapies of longer duration.

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