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2: Psychoanalytic framework for therapeutic work with looked-after and adopted children

Jenny Kenrick Karnac Books ePub

Jenny Kenrick

Psychoanalytic child and adolescent psychotherapy as practised at the Tavistock Clinic has two main roots: one is its psychoanalytic theoretical base; the second is its base in the observation of infants and young children. These come together in practice with children and families. This chapter is to show the particular relevance of the theoretical base in our work with looked-after and adopted children and in our participation in the work of a multidisciplinary based team. The same frameworks inform work with both foster carers and parents.

Freud developed a new theory of man and of mind at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His new “science” challenged the prevailing views of mind, motivation, and the innocence of children. A medical, neurological model, it described impulse-driven behaviour in a quantitative way. Later he developed a formulation of mind, in which man is driven by conflict between the life and death instincts, under the influence of ego, id, and superego. He described transference and countertransference. It was left to his followers to elaborate his theories into more finely honed working clinical tools.

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17: Contact with birth families: implications for assessment and integration in new families

Jenny Kenrick Karnac Books ePub

Caroline Lindsey

Working with questions relating to the issue of contact with birth families is an integral part of therapeutic work with children who are fostered, adopted, or in kinship care. The distinctions between the different forms of care are not always the most relevant factors for the child, birth family, and substitute carers, despite the differences in the legal framework that play a part in determining how much and whether contact occurs. The concept of openness is more important here, regarding both open communication and structural openness to actual contact. Therefore, in this chapter, the material relates to contact in all these different contexts. It is self-evident that the meaning and purpose of contact varies depending on the type of care episode, with whom the contact takes place, and its form. Contact is not an all-or-nothing concept. The infinite variations reflect the unique pattern formed by each family constellation. Hence, there are no hard and fast rules for determining what is appropriate in any one situation, and as relationships develop over time, there are changes in the need and abilities of those involved to participate in contact arrangements. Contact can be defined as the symbolic representation of the young person’s relationship with, at least, two sets of families. The type of contact, whether it is face-to-face or letter-box and all the many variations, carries a message about the nature of the relationship. This varies from conveying contact as a step in the process to rehabilitation with the birth family to a loving and lifelong concern and interest in the child who is being brought up by others. It is a socially constructed event in which each in the triad of child, birth family, and substitute carers plays a crucial part, and success depends on the ability of each party to contribute positively to the process. Furthermore, since most of the children and young people with whom a service like ours is involved are placed from care, the ongoing attitude, role, and availability of social work services can be pivotal in ensuring the safety and success of contact arrangements.

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9: Individual psychotherapy for late-adopted children: how one new attachment can facilitate another

Jenny Kenrick Karnac Books ePub

Juliet Hopkins

One of the risks of adopting children in care is that they may perpetuate their deprivation by rejecting the loving care offered them. Clinical experience shows that when this happens, it can sometimes be possible to facilitate children’s attachment to their new parents by involving them in individual therapy.

This chapter aims to describe the difficulties inherent for these deprived and rejected children in making new attachments and to consider how a new relationship to a psychotherapist may help these children to take the risk. Concepts from psychoanalysis and from attachment theory are used to understand the therapeutic process.

In order to explore these issues, I bring examples from the psychotherapy of two children—Max and Pauline—who had each been adopted at the age of 4 years but who had not bonded with their respective adoptive parents.

When they started therapy, Max was 9 years old, and Pauline was 14.

The early histories of these two children were typical of children placed in late adoption and do not need for present purposes to be individually specified. Enough to say that after two or three years in their birth families, where they suffered both abuse and neglect, they experienced several foster home placements before joining their adoptive families. Both sets of adoptive parents were caring, concerned, and thoughtful people who supposed, as many adoptive parents do, that they could undo the adverse effects of their children’s early experiences within a year or two.

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7: Work with children in transition

Jenny Kenrick Karnac Books ePub

Jenny Kenrick

When I go to collect 6-year-old Ryan from the waiting-room, I am struck by a picture of a boy in a real transition. He is sitting next to his social worker, surrounded by a pile of luggage. When he sees me, Ryan picks up a duffel bag, which he drags along the corridors to the therapy room. Having arrived in the room, he tips up the bag, and his toys spill out onto the floor—first some soft toys, and then cars and games. I feel that he is showing me his most precious possessions, all that he has at this moment. He hands me one of his soft toys—I find I am glad to hold onto its softness at this poignant moment. Ryan starts to play with his cars, telling me about the ones that are his best. Gradually I talk to him about how he seems to be carrying his luggage with him today; that I know he has come from one foster home and is moving to another after he has seen me. He tells me that he liked where he was, it was quiet there. He pauses and seems to reflect. I say that it sounds as if it was a place he liked to be, and it was perhaps quite hard to leave. He nods in agreement.

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3: The “added value” of attachment theory and research for clinical work in adoption and foster care

Jenny Kenrick Karnac Books ePub

Miriam Steele

Our work often brings us into contact with children whose parents were unable to care for them, leaving others to assume this duty. They have often endured multiple separations and losses. It was children like these who first inspired John Bowlby to devote his career to studying and understanding the impact upon children of maternal deprivation. In a report for the nascent World Health Organization, Bowlby commented on how mental health depends on children receiving continuous care, from which both mother—or mother-substitute—and child derive an enduring sense of joy (Bowlby, 1951). During the 1950s, at the Child and Family Department he helped to establish at the Tavistock Clinic, Bowlby convened a study group aimed at elucidating the importance of the parent–child relationship. Among his many colleagues was Mary Ainsworth. She conducted longitudinal studies of infants and their mothers, which identified sensitive and responsive care as the vital ingredient in promoting secure or “healthy” infant–parent relationships and, in turn, a solid sense of self within the child that would launch him towards trusting relations with others, and a sense of competence in pursuing cognitive and social goals. Bowlby drew on Ainsworth’s developmental research, cognitive psychology, control theory, and evolutionary theory to advance a theory of attachment in three volumes, Attachment (1969), Separation (1973), and Loss (1980).

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