An exploration of the nature and function of psychoanalytic parent work with adoptive parents

Boyd, Kate (2020) An exploration of the nature and function of psychoanalytic parent work with adoptive parents. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust/University of East London.

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Abstract

There has been an increase in the number of adopted children seen by psychotherapists (Rance, 2003), and yet little is known about the nature and function of the interventions with adoptive parents that run alongside this work (Whitefield and Midgley, 2015; Robinson, Luyten and Midgley, 2017). This study explores the experiences of four psychoanalytic child psychotherapists, who work in a specialist fostering, adoption and kinship care child and adolescent mental health service (FAKC CAMHS), in carrying out parent work with adoptive parents. Semi structured interviews were used to collect the data, which was then analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Seven superordinate themes shared between clinicians emerged from the data: ‘Seeing the child’, ‘Talking about the trauma’, ‘Getting alongside’, ‘Going there’, ‘Seeing the parent’, ‘Finding the space’, ‘Bridging the gap’. The practitioners’ experiences conveyed the complexity of working with adoptive parents, the approach they took, and the dilemmas and technical challenges they came across. Parallels between the findings and the literature on psychoanalytic theory and practice around work with looked-after and adoptive children and psychoanalytic parent work were found. It is argued that the insights the study provides could be drawn upon to further define, inform and provoke debate about the contribution child psychotherapists make to this work and the possible need for further training and support for child psychotherapists in this specialist area.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Essex for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Full text available for download on 21 July 2025.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adoption & Fostering- Psychology
Research, Tests, Assessments > Psychotherapy Research
Research, Tests, Assessments > Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Research
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2256

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