Residential child psychiatry units inevitably offer a form of temporary parenting to their patients. This paper explores various effects of this ‘parenting’ task on the treatment process itself and on a unit's relationship with parents. The potent therapeutic opportunities as well as potential unwanted effects deriving from this role are described. An awareness of the processes involved along with appropriate case management can maximise the benefits and minimise the unwanted effects of this factor within in-patient treatment.
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