How do parents of children with autism who have received intensive child psychotherapy view the treatment now

Bull, Rachel (2020) How do parents of children with autism who have received intensive child psychotherapy view the treatment now. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust/University of East London. Full text available

PDF (Bull (How to))
Bull - How do.pdf - Published Version

Download (2MB) | Preview


This retrospective study focussed on the parents of children with autism, aiming to understand more about the meaning they made of their experience of intensive child psychotherapy. Historically within the field, psychodynamic treatment has been viewed as judgemental. There is currently debate, both inside and outside the profession, about the aims and value of child psychotherapy for such children. A literature review revealed limited research on parents’ views of intensive psychotherapy for children with autism. Three mothers participated in semi-structured interviews. The resulting data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis which allowed for an in depth exploration of the complexity of parents’ relationships with the intervention. Three themes emerged: the first highlighted the experience and impact of loss; the second showed differing relationships with feelings and the self; the third illuminated relationships with help and change. The study found that parents of children with autism can experience a powerful sense of loss and may begin therapeutic work in the midst of a trauma. The findings suggested that parents’ relationship with intensive child psychotherapy is likely to be complex. Parents communicated that the help they and their child received led to an improved quality of life. The study highlights a need to pay attention to parents’ vulnerabilities when they initially engage and to stay connected to the impact of loss throughout the intervention. Recommendations include a consideration of the needs of the parent as well as the child through careful assessment. There is support for flexible models of treatment. The findings suggest the appropriate nature of child psychotherapy as part of a multiagency package of support for families of children with autism and point to a need to raise the profile of the intervention amongst other parents, within the discipline and across the wider provision.

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 East London for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, University of East London
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Child Psychotherapy
Communication (incl. disorders of) > Autism
Research, Tests, Assessments > Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

Actions (Library Staff login required)

View Item View Item