1st Edition

Working with Developmental Anxieties in Couple and Family Psychotherapy The Family Within

Edited By Penny Jools, Noela Byrne, Jenny Berg Copyright 2018
    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    The family begins with the parental couple; it is they who create the family. This book explores the way in which the child or any member of the family can carry unresolved projections arising from the parents’ families of origin: their family within, and the difficulties this internal family presents for the therapist.

    The model developed in this book explores psychoanalytically based ideas about infant development and applies them to the internal world of couples and families. It presents both a clear explanation of these theories as well as case histories that show how these ideas work in practice. The developmental model presented offers an original perspective on the wide range of problems that many couple and family therapists struggle with. These problems can be understood in the context of the family within, the way in which the family of origin dynamics have been internalised. This shared understanding between the couple and family and the therapist provides a path to greater maturity and therefore a greater capacity to cope with life’s vicissitudes.

    Working with Developmental Anxieties in Couple and Family Psychotherapy presents both a clear theoretical framework for understanding the development of the couple and family, and a practical application for these ideas. Case studies bring the model to life through illustrating both the problems of the family or couple and the difficulties of the work. It will appeal to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, couples and family therapists.

    Part One: Theory and Practice

    Introduction: The Family Within: A Developmental Focus on Family and Couple Psychotherapy Penny Jools

    Chapter One : The Couple and Family in Mind Jenny Berg

    Chapter Two: The Developmental Framework Noela Byrne and Jenny Berg

    Chapter Three: The Dynamics of Coupledom Noela Byrne and Maria Kourt

    Chapter Four: Containment and its Challenges Penny Jools and Jenny Berg

    Chapter Five: Finding the Patient in Couple and Family Psychotherapy George Haralambous and Penny Jools

    Part Two: Case Studies in Developmental Anxieties

    Chapter Six: A Bad Moment with the Light: the Role of Autistic-Contiguous Anxieties in a Couple’s Sexual Difficulties Jenny Berg

    Chapter Seven: Gathering Fragments: Early steps in the Evolution of a Creative Coupling Julia Meyerowitz-Katz

    Chapter Eight : Understanding and Working with No-sex Couples: a Developmental Perspective Lissy Abrahams

    Chapter Nine: Children of Oedipus: Oedipal Anxieties in Couple and Family Work Penny Jools

    Part Three

    Chapter Ten: Couple Psychotherapy through the Lens of Attachment Noela Byrne

    Chapter Eleven: Learning from Experience. Laurie Lovell-Simons and Penny Jools.

    Concluding Thoughts Penny Jools

    Glossary Penny Jools


    Penny Jools, has a PhD and a Clinical Masters in Developmental Psychology. She and her two colleagues and co-editors run a successful private clinic in Annandale,Sydney that specialises in working with troubled couples and families. She has worked as an individual, couple and family psychotherapist for more than thirty years. Her recent international publications have been on couple psychotherapy.

    Jenny Berg, MBBS, FRANZCP, is a child adolescent family psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Couple and family psychoanalysis is her area of expertise. She has regularly supervised interested private practitioners, taught child psychiatric trainees, and has been steadfast in maintaining an organization (the Child Couple and Family Psychotherapy Association of Australasia) that aims to keep these ideas alive within the wider community in Australasia. She has also published internationally in this area.

    Noela Byrne is a qualified social worker and an individual, couple and family psychotherapist. Until her recent retirement, she had spent over thirty-five years both in the public and private sectors. She has been involved in supervision and teaching to both psychiatrists and psychotherapists in training. Her past publications were in individual, couple and family psychotherapy.

    "Couple relationships are the source of much joy and misery. They have huge significance for the well-being of family members and for the community at large, so they are worth understanding and supporting. This book helps us do just that. It describes the interior landscape of couple relationships, providing a lucid digest of the main psychoanalytic ideas and illuminating the dark valleys that hinder couples in their conscious quest to reach the sunny uplands they seek. It focuses on developmental anxieties associated with relationship problems and illustrates the process of working with these in vivid detail. The combination of clearly signposted theory and well-honed clinical experience provides valuable threads that will assist therapists in navigating the often labyrinthine tunnels that make up the internal world of couple relationships."-Christopher Clulow Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Tavistock Relationships, London.

    "This book elegantly bears out Lewin’s aphorism ‘There is nothing more practical than a good theory’. I welcome its focus on the internalised family at the heart of relationships between couples and families. The authors draw on wide clinical experience, lucidly setting out key psychoanalytic concepts illustrated with moving case examples. Practitioners and students alike will value the use of a developmental perspective as a context for linking and integrating sensory, emotional, and relational experience across the life-cycle."-Molly Ludlam, Editor, Couple and Family Psychoanalysis.

    "To learn well we need the detail, the to-and-fro of what happens. We also need places to visit, positions to step back to where we can foster our capacity to think. The Family Within has all that. You are invited (even expected) to share the suffering and confusions of those who seek help, and to learn with the therapists as they present the detail of their clinical work, open themselves to experience, and apply their minds to think. A book with many writers is not to be rushed. Take your time reading. There’s much to learn."-Maurice Whelan, Psychoanalyst. 

    "If you want to develop a deeper understanding of "creative coupling" which involves relating more deeply and intimately, then this book is definitely "a must". It portrays the deepest levels of the psyche by acknowledging how early sensory experiences of touch and feeling affect current anxieties within the couple’s relationship. Sexual difficulties, affairs, projections into a child presenting difficulties are described with a profound insight into the couples’ more primitive feelings. Most importantly, this emotionally engaging and innovative work provides clinical vignettes to show how interferences from early sensory and emotional experiences can be ameliorated through  psychoanalytically informed couple psychotherapy. Reading this book is transformative for both psychotherapists and couples."-Jeanne Magagna, Ph.d. Tavistock Trained Adult, Family and Child Psychotherapist, formerly Head of Psychotherapy Services, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and editor of The Silent Child: Communication without Words.