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Treating Troubled Children and Their Families
Synopses & Reviews
Drawing on clinical insights from family systems thinking, psychodynamic play therapy, and cognitive-behavioral perspectives, this significant new work presents an innovative approach to therapeutic work with young children and their families. The author brings a thoroughly integrative orientation to bear in her understanding of how parents and children get entangled in patterns that cause grief to both generations. Her approach--"child-in-family" therapy--although steeped in the systems outlook, offers a thorough consideration of the unique characteristics of the child in trouble and the specific developmental obstacles that he or she faces. This strategy enhances family therapy at times when a child's difficulties begin to take on a life of their own, and also brings the power of family systems thinking to individual efforts to help young children in trouble.
Beginning with an introduction to the author's methods, the first chapter sets forth a rationale for combining the most valuable aspects of systems therapy with individual psychotherapy approaches. With much clinical detail, the book first explains how to effectively conduct meetings with parents alone, emphasizing ways to draw out parents' concerns about their children and distinguish distortions and projections from true observations. The author also demonstrates the use of a valuable element from family therapy--a positive orientation that helps parents notice their children's strengths. In addition to offering specific guidance on how to conduct family sessions with very young children, Ellen Wachtel gives family therapists the tools they need to begin including individual sessions with children as part and parcel of family therapy. She also shares with readers numerous concrete suggestions on how to interact with young children in ways that foster emotional expressiveness.
In step-by-step detail, this book demonstrates how therapists can organize and evaluate the information gleaned through the different sessions so that the child is neither pathologized nor too readily pronounced "fine." Active interventions based on psychodynamic formulations are utilized to address such individual issues as the child's oversensitivity to criticism, low self-esteem, poor relationships with peers, and conflicts around aggression. Interventions based on behavioral formulations are also described in detail. In the final chapter, the author presents five case studies that clearly illustrate the clinical use of the concepts and applications described. She shows how interventions at the family system level must be complemented by interventions that focus on the child. These include not only the use of play and other projective methods for bringing to light the child's issues, but also active efforts to work with the child on changing his or her behavior.
Clinically sophisticated, humane, comprehensive, and powerfully integrative, this volume represents a major leap forward in our ability to help troubled children and their families. Presenting a ground-breaking new approach that combines the best elements from family systems thinking and individual therapy, the book is an invaluable resource for all professionals.
Book News Annotation:
Drawing on clinical insights from family systems thinking, psychodynamic play therapy, and cognitive-behavioral perspectives, Wachtel presents an innovative approach to therapeutic work with young children and their families. Her approach--"child-in- family" therapy--although steeped in the systems outlook, offers a thorough consideration of the unique characteristics of the child in trouble and the specific developmental obstacles he or she faces.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Drawing on clinical insights from family systems thinking, psychodynamic play therapy, and cognitive-behavioral approaches, the author examines how parents and children get entangled in patterns that cause grief to both generations. Her "child-in-family" therapy approach is steeped in the systems perspective, yet offers a consideration of the unique characteristics of the child in trouble and the specific developmental obstacles he or she faces.
Integrating systemic, psychodynamic, and cognitive-behavioral perspectives, this acclaimed book presents an innovative framework for therapeutic work. Ellen Wachtel shows how parents and children all too often get entangled in patterns that cause grief to both generations, and demonstrates how to help bring about change with a combination of family-focused and child-focused interventions. Vivid case examples illustrate creative ways to engage young children in family sessions and conduct complementary sessions with children and parents alone, using a variety of strengths-based, developmentally informed strategies. The paperback edition features a new preface in which the author reflects on the continuing evolution of her approach.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 287-296) and index.
About the Author
Ellen F. Wachtel, JD, PhD, is a graduate of Harvard Law School and New York University's doctoral program in Clinical Psychology. She has taught and supervised individual and family therapy in the doctoral programs at New York University and the City University of New York, as well as at Roosevelt Hospital and the Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy. Dr. Wachtel gives workshops both in the United States and abroad on integrative approaches to working with couples, families with young children, and adults in individual therapy settings. Coauthor (with Paul L. Wachtel) of Family Dynamics in Individual Psychotherapy, she is also in private practice in New York City.
Table of Contents
1. The Child as an Individual: An Introduction to Child-in-Family Therapy
2. Meeting with Parents Alone: Understanding Their Concerns
3. Getting the Most Out of Family Meetings
4. Knowing the Child in Depth: A Clinical Guide to Effective Individual Sessions
5. Anxiety, Adaptational Styles, and Defense Mechanims
6. Essential Psychodynamic Concepts
7. Interventions Based on Psychodynamic Formulations
8. Interventions Based on Behavioral Formulations
9. Pulling It All Together: Five Illustrative Case Studies
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