Parent Child

Enmeshment and Merger in the Parent-Child Relationship

Saturday 11 July 2020 - London

A workshop with Dr Aileen Alleyne, Dr Tim Baker, Stanley Ruszczynski and Dr Arlene Vetere


In this conference we want to find ways of working with adolescent and adult clients who have suffered an enmeshed parental relationship which has prevented healthy separation and individuation. Our speakers will explore the concept of enmeshment as a consequence of the needs of the narcissistic parent, as well as a family culture where personal boundaries are diffused, roles are undifferentiated and an over-concern or anxiety for the other can lead to a loss of autonomous development.




Registration and Coffee

Dr Tim Baker
Enmeshed Parent-Child Relationships and Severe Adolescent Disturbance
This presentation will draw on psychoanalytic, attachment and mentalisation theories to explore the relationship between enmeshed parent-child relationships and some of the severe disturbances encountered in clinical work with adolescents. Using clinical examples, Tim will argue that these presentations (including suicide attempts, significant self-harm and sexually harmful behaviour) can often be understood as pathological solutions to the difficulties that confront an adolescent who is attempting to negotiate the developmental task of separation and individuation. Whilst these solutions may allow a satisfaction of the impulse to feel separate, Tim will suggest that they paradoxically tie the adolescent further into the enmeshed relationship.


Dr Arlene Vetere
Triangulation in Family Relationships: A Lifespan Developmental Perspective
This presentation will explore triangulation in families as a process of enmeshment. In our search for safety and security in our close relationships we sometimes form both stable and unstable triangular relationships that can have consequences for our psychological development and long term wellbeing. Using examples from research and therapeutic practice with domestic violence and eating disorders Arlene will explore how an integration of systems theory, attachment theory and trauma theory helps us formulate and intervene with processes of power and influence in relationships, secrecy in families and the positive intentions in our corrective and replicative scripts as partners and parents.


Discussion in Groups and Pairs with Chaired Q&A

Dr Aileen Alleyne
An Intercultural Perspective
Enmeshment is the opposite to individuality, a view easily endorsed if we only embrace Western theories that measure therapy outcomes through the process of achieving individuation and personal autonomy. In this presentation, Aileen will draw on her clinical and social experiences of working with individuals who hail from non-nuclear or culturally extended families, where staunch cultural values and belief systems present dilemmas for both the client, and practitioner working with enmeshment issues and facilitating the orthodox process for the end goal of individuation. To highlight some of these intercultural dilemmas, we will be addressing the following areas: the immobilising conflict experienced when faced with being between two loyalties, that to one’s self and simultaneously to one’s family; the challenge of separating out and letting go from unhealthy family bonds; managing expectations borne out in phrases such as, “when you marry The One, you also marry The Entire Family“; and, the complex subject highlighting the impact of absent fathers on lone parent/child bonding.


Stanley Ruszczynski
So Near and Yet So Far
In this presentation Stanley will outline a developmental and psychoanalytic understanding of the concept of narcissism, which is useful in thinking about and working with all relationships, and especially those which might be described as enmeshed or intrusive. He will suggest that in such relationships, though there is a wish for attachment and closeness, there is also great anxiety and difficulty in establishing a secure sense of the self and of the other with whom a healthy relationship might be formed.




Handouts and lunch included:

Confer member:
(Click here to become a member)


2 x Self-funded:

Psychotherapy trainee:


Certificates of attendance for 6 hours will be provided at the event


6th Floor, Foyles Bookshop
107 Charing Cross Road



09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:00 Coffee
12:30 Lunch
15.00 Tea
17:00 End


Regrettably, refunds cannot be given in any circumstances except as follows:

  • You cancel in writing to 60 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 100% refund.
  • You cancel in writing to 30 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 50% refund.

This does not apply to parts of an event such as a seminar within a series but only to a whole event or complete series. You may give your place to another person if you let us know that person's name at least 24 hours before the event begins.

We reserve the right to change a speaker at one of our conferences without offering a refund. However, if a solo presenter cancels we will offer a full refund OR transfer of your fee to another Confer event. If the entire event is cancelled we will offer you a full refund.

We reserve the right to change our prices at any time. Regrettably, discounts offered after you made your booking cannot be claimed or applied retrospectively.