Couples as parents and parents as couples

Course overview

Does your work involve contact with children and parents? Do you come across couples who are struggling to parent together? Do you want to understand more about the way the struggle to be a couple is entwined with the struggle to be parents?

Our experience shows that couples who struggle with their relationship, often struggle to unite as parents. The course will offer a way of understanding the underlying processes. If you are thinking of extending your practice and at the same time feel that facing a couple might be challenging or even intimidating, then this course will be for you.

In this 5 session course we will study the couple and the way that the couple relationship impacts on the parental relationship, which inevitably affects family life and the children. We aim to introduce a way of understanding unconscious couple interaction, which we believe informs choosing a partner, falling in love, what drives things when they go wrong and also the parenting relationship that the couple make. There will be a special emphasis on the application of psychodynamic ideas to the couple and to the parenting relationship.

The course will involve lecture/presentations, video presentations and the opportunity to present and discuss clinical material. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion and members will be offered the chance to present their own material.

Themes to be explored include:

  • Couple choice and fit
  • Unconscious couple interaction
  • The power of the couple relationship
  • Its effects on parenting
  • Different kinds of families and parenting structures
  • When 2 become 3
  • Parents of under 5’s
  • The place of fathers
  • Fathers
  • Facing difficulties as parents as children grow up
  • Being parents of adolescents
  • Understanding of the importance of unconscious couple choice when working with couples, and the influence of this on the course of their relationship

  • Develop greater confidence in being able to ‘think couple’ in the course of your work

  • Develop confidence in being able to manage the powerful nature of couple work and the personal impact of this on you as a professional

  • Develop greater understanding of the unconscious projections in the interactions when working with individuals, parents, children and young people including couples who are separated

  • Develop skills to intervene with couples to help their relationship, whether working with couples, individuals, children and young people

  • Extend your existing skills to incorporate directing interventions to a couple’s relationship difficulties which attends to both the relationship the couple create together AND both partners’ needs individually

This course will be of interest to mental health professionals interested in developing a greater understanding either in working with couples or keeping the couple in mind in individual and family work. There will be opportunities to discuss clinical work and think about couple focussed interventions which both take in to account the shared unconscious world of the couple, and the impact of this on professionals in mental health work.

"The style of presenting was very good, and the clinical examples thoughtfully introduced. There were many interesting discussions"

New dates for this course will be advertised here in due course. Please contact us at to be added to the waiting list.

Fees will be announced here when the course is next open for booking

Included in your course fee, you will receive online membership of the Tavistock’s internationally-renowned library for the duration of your course.Our friendly and knowledgeable library team will help to support you through your specialist CPD course, whatever your level of professional or academic experience. You will have access to an extensive range of eBooks, online journals, all the relevant key databases and our specialist audio-visual collection, plus reference access to all our print books. 

Our Information Skills Trainer has made lots of material available on Moodle to help you navigate our comprehensive electronic collections. PCs and photocopiers are also available for your use (charges apply for printing and copying).

Library staff curate various online resources, such as Audio/Video Playlists, and regularly share helpful news and research on Twitter and Facebook. Find out more on the Library website:

Certificate of attendance
The Tavistock Centre, London
Admission status:
Course lead:
Leezah Hertzmann

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