Thanks for thte execellent question. You have certainly expressed the major difficulty - getting the parents to be the accepted target for intervention. I have a couple of things to add. I don't know if they will come out of my head in order...so bear with me here.
1) the developmental stage of all concerned is key. If the child is not, say, playing or dating, as one would expect, Erickson would want to get actions going in that direction.
2) If the parents are being left alone as the last child leaves home (or the 1st is leaving, etc.) this developmental state for them can offer a hook. They can come to see the therapist as a way to better cope with the changes.
3) It appears clinically to be very common that the parents of child at age "x" had very similar difficulties in their family of origin when they were age "x". Consequently, they don't have an internal frame of referrence to understand and interact with that age child...and too, their own feelings are still confused (angery, sad, abandoned, abused, etc.). So, this too is often the greatest hook for them to begin working. As they do their unfinnished work, they "get" how to deal with their own child with little additional aid.
4) Having the IP witness this work by the parents is quite helpful for building maturity and intimacy in the family.
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