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Parenting and Personality Dysfunction: clinical implications

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 The ‘orchid-dandelion’ hypothesis of child development (Ellis, 2008)suggests that there are some ‘environments’ that can damage even the most resilient children. Parental harshness, chronic hostility and a rejecting stance might form part of such hazardous environments – the incidence of which may be more common in parents with personality disorders. Evidence shows that such ‘maladaptive parental behaviour’ is not just associated with high rates of child and adolescent psychopathology; but also with higher manifestations of conduct and / or oppositional defiant disorders in children.

As therapists, we also realise that parental personality dysfunctions can have attachment implications. Frightened or frightening parenting behaviours lead to disorganised attachment in children, which in turn is symptomatic of a range of abnormal childhood behaviours. Our challenge in working with such parents and families however, is that abusive parents with personality disorders are often hard to engage. They may feel defensive and reluctant to building a trusting relationship over time with therapists.

At this practical and therapeutically oriented seminar which would be especially relevant for psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists, Dr Adshead draws on her extensive clinical experience, recent neurobiological findings and relational thought to help us comprehend:

  • How personality disorders (across the three DSM-5 clusters) affect the interpersonal function and can be viewed as relational disorders
  • Core parenting skills that create attuned sensitivity (and hence, secure attachment patterns) and how these can be negatively impacted through personality dysfunctions
  • The links between personality disorders and high-risk states of mind
  • The evidence that shows the risk to child development, both in terms of genetic vulnerability and environmental stress factors
  • Clinical interventions for parents with personality disorders


Maintaining the view that therapeutic interventions for parents with personality disorders are both effective and preventive, Dr Adshead explains how therapists can apply these learnings in clinical settings and allow for provision of relational security at multiple levels.

Location London
Category Talking Therapies
Details of Event
Start date 27 Jun 2020
Start time 10:00am
Venue Address Broadway House, Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NQ
Amount £135
Organiser Nscience
Speaker Dr Gwen Adshead
CPD hours 5
Contact No. 020 7096 1722
Keywords Child, Counselling, Mental Health, Psychology, Psychotherapy
Regions Greater London


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