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Good Cop / Bad Cop: the parenting soft hard split as a systems adaptation in high stress contexts

Jenny Brown

The family therapy field has long recognized a common pattern of a soft /hard split that develops in response to parenting a symptom bearing child. One parent adapts to the anxiety about the child with increased nurturing and the other shifts to a complimentary position of increased discipline and limit setting. This reciprocity appears to happen automatically in many families faced with the challenge of a child’s symptoms and gradually intensifies as each instinctively reacts to the other’s interaction with their child. 

35th Australian Family Therapy Conference
30-31 October 2014 Novotel, Sydney, Australia
Visit AAFT at: www.aaft.asn.au

Jenny Brown
Jenny Brown
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Jenny Brown

Jenny Brown MSW is a social worker and director of the Family Systems Institute in Sydney, which provided professional development in current applications of Bowen family systems theory. Jenny has been involved in the family therapy practice since the 1980s. Additional to her Australian family therapy education and experience, she has trained with Betty Carter, Salvador Minuchin in New York, and the systems team at the Tavistock London. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales, researching parents' interface with their adolescents' mental health treatment team. Her research is based at a tertiary treatment centre for adolescents and their families. She is a regular speaker at conferences and community events, has published numerous articles, book chapters and a book ‘Growing yourself up: How to bring your best to all of life’s relationships’.

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