Parent-Infant Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy with Parents and Children under Five

Early parenthood can and should be one of the most rewarding experiences of one's life. Often, however, this important period is marred by difficulties which cause parents a lot of anxiety. Common issues such as excessive crying in infants, as well as problems around sleeping, eating or separation can leave both parents and children exhausted, frustrated and unable to truly enjoy each other's company. Although some early problems resolve themselves over time, others persist or reappear in different forms, depending on the developmental stage.

Early parenting can also be emotionally trying because taking care of a baby awakens strong emotions in the parents and reawakens old vulnerabilities. Being confronted with a young child's needs can bring back feelings of helplessness, frustration, neediness and confusion with remarkable intensity.

Psychotherapy with parents and babies or young children was developed to address these difficulties. It is indicated when there is prolonged distress in either the child or the parents. It is an option to consider whenever parents have persistent feelings of anxiety, frustration or resentment that interferes with enjoying their children, irrespective of the specific problems. Such work is often brief because the issues involved are still new and have not had a chance to develop into fixed patterns.

Initially, children and parents (or caregivers) are seen together for up to 10 sessions at regular intervals. During this time, we seek to clarify the underlying difficulties; the focus of the work is both on the childrens' and the parents' needs. The greater part of the therapeutic work is thinking together about the nature of the problem and its meaning for both the child and the parents. At the end of this initial period, the situation is reassessed and the decision is made together as to how best to proceed: whether to terminate therapy at that time, to continue in the same modality, or to consider other options, like individual therapy for the child (if old enough) or counseling for the parents.  

The goal is to remove the obstacles on the way to the child's healthy emotional development and the parents' enjoyment of their child's early months and years.