Mixed Heritage, Mixed Feelings – PPIP During Covid

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Organised by:

British Psychotherapy Foundation

03 July 2024

Time: 18:30 - 19:30

Price: Free

Location: online


Mixed Heritage, Mixed Feelings: Parent Infant Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy during the coronavirus pandemic, aiming to interrupt intergenerational racial trauma.

This presentation will focus on an account of a year of Psychoanalytic Parent-Infant Psychotherapy (PPIP) by a white therapist with a mixed heritage family. PPIP therapy was sought as the pregnant mother felt disconnected from her unborn baby, and was low and depressed after the breakdown of her couple relationship. After her son’s traumatic birth, she felt depressed and anxious about still not developing any loving connection to her baby, who was already presenting as withdrawn and avoidant.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, therapy was interrupted and much of the work was done remotely, online. The context of our work was also within the growing Black Lives Matter movement. Structural racism and racial violence in society were being highlighted and these external events offered an opportunity for further, deeper exploration of this family’s own unique experience of racial abuse and trauma. We uncovered painful aspects of colourism within the parent’s history, that were at risk of repetition.

The recognition of unconscious aspects of racism and racialised encounters repeated in the therapy enabled both therapist and patient/s to begin to process experiences, thoughts, and fantasies about belonging, heritage, and racial trauma. This work led to an improvement in the parent child relationship. I will reflect on the importance of self reflection, cultural humility and the use of cultural ‘ports of entry’ to address the impact of ‘ghosts in society ‘ (C.Ghosh Ippen) as well as the more traditional approach of eliminating the ‘Ghosts in the nursery’ (S. Fraiberg).

About the speaker
Michela is a child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapist (ACP) and psychoanalytic parent infant psychotherapist (BPC). She is Course Director for the new Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic Parent Infant Psychotherapy Training at the BPF. She is also a Senior Tutor on the IPCAPA training on the UCL/ Anna Freud Doctorate in Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy (ACP).

Michela was the lead of the Parent Infant Psychotherapy service at the Anna Freud Centre, London and a Deputy Head of the Early Years Clinical service there. She has also worked in NHS CAMHS generic and specialist LAC teams. She teaches and supervises Parent Infant psychotherapy on various courses in the UK and internationally. She now works in private practice.

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