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 falling in love, choosing a partner, 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:
  • 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
  • Facing difficulties as parents as children grow up
  • Being parents of adolescents

Penni Swinden is an Individual and Couple Psychotherapist, and Visiting Lecturer at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

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

Included in your course fee, you will receive full 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 to navigate our comprehensive electronic collections.  PCs and photocopiers are also available for your use.

Library staff curate various online resources, such as Audio/Video Playlists and Subject Updates, to help you stay on top of latest developments, as well as regularly sharing helpful news and research on Twitter and Facebook. Find out more on the Library website:

Certificate of attendance
The Tavistock Centre, London
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