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13 Mattie as “maternal container” for a trainee

Maria Rhode Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Evanthe Blandy

Mattie was there for me at my beginning, but not at my end. In terms of the training, that is. I did not say goodbye to her. After her accident, I thought about visiting her, but could not bear to see her with her spirit dimmed. Also, I did not feel it was my “place”. Only in thinking through this piece, which has taken me over a year to produce, have I come to understand what a live person she is in my mind. Perhaps I have had to come to terms with her loss. I am grateful here, though late in the day, to have the chance to acknowledge the debt of gratitude I feel towards Mattie.

I began my training in child psychotherapy in 1974 at the Tavistock Clinic at the age of 27. My first experience of learning about the human psyche from observation was with Martha Harris, known to all who worked at the time at the Tavistock Clinic, as “Mattie”. Mattie was the first person I encountered there as she had interviewed me. When she told me, after 20 minutes, that I was accepted onto the course, I felt I had to tell her that I had applied unsuccessfully three times for another training – in effect that the Tavistock was my second choice. Perhaps I could not believe my luck, but this was hardly an appropriate time to be transparent! But she countered my doubts by saying that what mattered was that as many people as possible train in this kind of work, wherever. I subsequently learned that she believed candidates choose themselves, in effect. She understood that people come into this work because it is their vocation. She must have seen it in me at that time, although I did not know it myself. Her lack of ego, in the colloquial sense, struck me forcibly from the start.

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Medium 9781855753228

6. An Under Fives' Counselling Service and its Relation to Questions of Assessment

Emanuela Quagliata Karnac Books ePub

Lisa Miller

This brief chapter sets out to describe the Under Fives’ Counselling Service at the Tavistock Clinic, to outline some of our practice and its origins, and to link it with assessment, including that kind of assessment which never moves towards long-term treatment but stays at the level of what Winnicott called a ‘therapeutic consultation’. The Under Fives’ Service is a much-used service in our Child and Family Department which was set up to answer the frequent need for brief work with parents and their baby or small child. This service has been running for some years, and we have developed our own way of working. We offer up to five sessions (all five may not be needed or wanted) with one of our team of professionals drawn from all the four department disciplines in psychiatry, social work, child psychotherapy and psychology. This work needs to be undertaken by experienced workers, because in brief work you need to have some resources to draw on, to have some capacity for quick thinking and to have developed some resilience in the face of sudden strong projected anxiety. Nowhere are these qualities more necessary than in work with infants and very young children when one is constantly urged on by the inner awareness that every week counts at a time when development is proceeding at such a pace. Less experienced workers have ample opportunity both for co-work with a senior person and for supervision. Indeed, for all kinds of briefer work, and certainly for assessment too, support and discussion times are not just desirable but essential.

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3 Mattie’s teaching methods

Maria Rhode Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Ann Cebon

During a most enjoyable meeting (over dinner, of course!) Eve Steel, Pat Kenwood, Herb Hahn and I – Mattie’s group from Melbourne, Australia – talked about our recollections of Mattie and her teaching methods. We agreed that we shared with each other the extent to which her methods permeated our lives: not only our professional lives at all levels, but also our relations with each other. We share values, curiosity, a love of honesty and forthrightness. For me, there is a thread linking back to Mattie’s mind and Mattie’s room at the Tavi, where I still vividly remember the first meeting of my group for our first infant observation seminar, with Mattie, in the autumn of 1967.

My intention, while writing my personal anecdotes and memories of Martha Harris, is to attempt to convey her unique qualities as a person, teacher, and supervisor. Writing this short piece has again put me in touch with her way of teaching, one could say her way of being, which was not by theory but by practice. What she gave was truly both “pure and applied” as the mathematicians say, and we, her students, imbibed. She was a truly thoughtful and an ethical person, with total integrity, and this conveyed itself to us. The impact Mattie had on me began with my first meeting with her. While I have now come to think of her as “Mattie”, during my nine years in London, and in my subsequent correspondence with her, I always addressed and thought of her as “Mrs Harris”.

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Medium 9781782200604

11 - Thoughts on Transitions between Cultures: Jonathon Moves from Home to School and from Class to Class

Simonetta MG Adamo Karnac Books ePub

Elizabeth Taylor Buck & Margaret Rustin

The observations that follow highlight one aspect of children's lives. Even quite small children often live in more than one culture of care—home and childminding, home and nursery, for example. Within the family there will, of course, be a range of mini-cultures: father and mother will themselves provide different styles of care, grandparents, babysitters, older siblings, aunts and uncles, still more new experiences. Young child observers are always mindful of the picture of home in the child's mind as a background to the response to nursery, but it is more unusual to have an example of a child's transition within nursery school from one class to another. Such moves evoke the earlier, more significant one at the start of nursery, but they also allow us to study the micro-society of the nursery class and its impact on the opportunities for personal development provided.

The intensity of Jonathon's reaction to joining a new class, even one that shared a large space with his old group and where there was overlapping of some staff, is a vivid example of the way in which a sense of personal identity and security is easily threatened at times of transition.

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16 Supervision of a five year old boy

Maria Rhode Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Andrea Watson

The decision of Dr Meltzer and Mrs Harris in 1977 to split their analytic practice and to work half-time teaching and analysing in Oxford was one that had a transforming effect both professionally and personally on many people’s lives, including mine. I was able, as a psychiatric social worker working in the Child Guidance Clinic in Oxford to attend the clinical seminars that Dr Meltzer began leading. It was the experience of these that convinced me that I both wanted and needed to undertake an analysis for myself. Dr Meltzer referred me to Doreen Weddell and I began my analysis with her in July 1979.

At this point I had absolutely no thought of training as a child psychotherapist, but this began to change gradually under her influence and encouragement. Looking back, I believe that she anticipated that she probably would not live long enough to complete my analysis and she wanted to leave me in safe analytic hands before she died. She had already suffered a number of strokes that had left her with physical though not mental impairment. She died after I had been in analysis with her for 18 months, but within that time she insisted – and I think that is not too strong a word – that I undertake an Infant Observation with Mrs Harris and also that I entered supervision with her for the work with children that I was beginning to do.

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