This book examines the treatment of young children from the perspective of the therapist's clinical decisions. How does the therapist know what to do at any given moment in a session? What processes of synthesis and integration allow the therapist to choose interventions that transform the relationship between adult and child into a treatment relationship? How does the child therapist balance working with the child and working with the child's parents?
This book is the narrative of a case as presented in supervision. Every week the therapist recounts her sessions with her young patient, a girl of six named Cleo, who is suffering from intense fear. The fear is invasive and unrelenting and the little girl is engaged in a desperate struggle to master it, but she fails over and over again. She cannot repress her terrifying fantasies. As Cleo plays during her sessions, we are witness to the derivatives of the fearsome fantasies and to her depleting and often futile struggle to find some measure of comfort. What is the therapist's role in this situation? How does the therapist enter this chaotic and emotionally draining zone and begin the work of treatment? The reader joins the supervisory sessions and follows the unfolding story of the treatment process. Each session is discussed in detail as therapist and supervisor work together to make the elusive and fragmented nature of the sessions technically usable. Much thought is given to trying to understand the possible origin and nature of the developmental forces that caused Cleo's emotional distress. The recurring themes of her sessions are extracted from the often confusing material and discussed with the goal of arriving at treatment principles - principles that could help Cleo deflect the force of her frightening fantasies. The supervisory process guides the treatment process by providing an affective and organizing anchoring. Everything is examined. What toys and why? Food in sessions? Frequency of sessions? Can the child's drawings be taken home? Presents? Confidentiality with children? Work with parents? Vacations? All that is particular to Cleo and all that can be generalized has the common foundation of classical psychoanalytic theory, enriched and expanded by developmental and object relations theory.
Throughout these chapters, the theoretical framework remains the fundamental gauge and guide - the compass of the treatment. The therapist's growing ability to harness the richness and organization it provides is shared with the reader.
Diana Siskind has written a remarkable book about complex processes involved in the treatment of young children. This book will be of great help to practitioners and therapists, as well as to teachers in Graduate schools at all levels. Smith College School Of Social Work Journal This book offers a valuable contribution to our understanding of both child psychotherapy and supervision. This book should be read by both child therapists and supervisors as well as graduate students in psychology, social work, and related professions. Contemporary Psychology: The Apa Review Of Books This book brings to the field of psychoanalysis a refreshing, wide-angle lense on the work of child psychotherapy, viewing all at once the dynamic process between supervisor, therapist, and patient. Siskind is highly skilled at weaving clinical technique with theory. This book is a toolbox, ready to be opened. Each chapter emphasizes a different aspect of a child psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Quarterly This book is valuable not only for its contribution to the process of child treatment but also for its model of the process of supervision. Clinical Social Work Journal Valuable technique and theory unfold in this well-written text. -- Patsy Turrini, MSS This is a remarkable book, among the finest I have read on child psychotherapy. It allows the reader into the world of a master supervisor, talented therapist, and imaginative but vulnerable child. It provides verbatim transcripts of supervisory sessions (the supervisor is the author) that closely examine the process of child therapy. The volume is noteworthy for its hypnotic readability that draws the reader into its gripping and vivid clinical process. -- Jeffrey Seinfeld This book is recommended for all mental health professionals, and is of particular interest to those who are learning to do child treatment, adult therapists who would like to see what actually goes on in the child therapy process, and all supervisors who would like to witness the unfolding of a treatment and supervisory relationship in the hands of a very talented teacher and supervisor. -- Linda Gunsberg