1st Edition

Working with Parents in Child Psychotherapy

By Elisa Bronfman, Johanna D. Sagarin Copyright 2024

    Grounded in decades of clinical experience, this empathic, practical book presents a research-informed framework for delivering parent guidance as a stand-alone intervention or adjunct to child therapy. Elisa Bronfman and Johanna D. Sagarin delineate flexible coaching strategies to enhance family relationships and parenting skills and find new solutions to struggles around discipline, homework, bedtime, meals, screen time, and other daily routines. The approach can be tailored for parents dealing with any child mental health concern or behavioral challenge. Assessment, treatment planning, clinical decision making, and progress monitoring are all discussed in step-by-step detail. Packed with illustrative case material, the book features 34 reproducible clinical tools that can be photocopied or downloaded.


    Elisa Bronfman, PhD, is Senior Staff Psychologist at Boston Children's Hospital, where she specializes in supporting children, teens, and families coping with medical illness. Since joining the hospital in 1998, she has provided training, supervision, and individual and family psychotherapy, and has run numerous patient and caregiver groups targeting a range of child issues. Dr. Bronfman is also Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She is coauthor of the Atypical Maternal Behavior Instrument for Assessment and Classification (AMBIANCE), a research tool used to assess parent/n-/infant attachment, on which she provides training nationally and internationally, and of journal articles and books on a range of topics.

    Johanna D. Sagarin, PhD, is Internship Coordinator in the Clinical Counseling Psychology program at Assumption University, where she also teaches undergraduate psychology courses, and is a clinical psychologist in private practice. Previously, Dr. Sagarin was Vice President of Children’s Friend, in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she directed a community mental health clinic for youth and families for close to two decades. In this setting, she helped develop specialized programs in grief and in working with LGBTQIA+ youth and their families. She has supervised and consulted with many clinicians, has been active in university-level teaching for many years, and has given numerous trainings and workshops for professionals and the public.

    "This book will become an instant classic. Parent guidance is critical to effective change in child psychotherapy, but there have been few resources for clinicians on how to approach the multiple challenges embedded in such work. This book is filled with clinical wisdom and imbued with deep respect for parents. While keeping the therapist–parent relationship at the forefront, the authors have also packed the volume with practical, clear guidelines for identifying and building parent–child relationship skills. Only thoughtful, compassionate, and experienced therapists like Bronfman and Sagarin could have written this book."--Karlen Lyons-Ruth, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

    "This is exactly the kind of book I longed to read as I trained to become a child clinical psychotherapist, and the kind of book I would draw on and use in my classes. Written by two wise and remarkable clinicians with years of experience in clinical work, teaching, and research, as well as parenting experience, this is a powerful, rich book that helps us to better understand how to work with parents in child psychotherapy."--Teresa Ostler, PhD, School of Social Work (Emerita), University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

    "This is the most comprehensive and accessible book for professionals working with parents that I have read in years. Bronfman and Sagarin tackle a pressing clinical challenge facing psychotherapists today--empowering parents to raise emotionally strong and healthy children in a time of escalating mental health problems. In this wonderful book, nothing is overlooked and everything is anticipated. The authors show how to help parents not only to understand the whole child and become agents of change to improve behavior, but also to take better care of themselves. I found myself immediately beginning to integrate the ideas in this book into my work with clients."--Anthony Rao, PhD, private practice, Boston, Massachusetts-