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Hinshelwood, B. (1986). Editorial. Brit. J. Psychother., 3(1):3-4.

(1986). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(1):3-4


Bob Hinshelwood

In this issue we are continuing with a policy of generating continuing contributions on certain issues. In the last issue we started a series of material on the importance of infant observation, with the previously unpublished paper of Esther Bick. And in this issue we have a ‘Clinical Commentary’ using some material from a session of an infant observation. Infant observation is a training and research method that was pioneered by Esther Bick in the 1950's, first of all in the training of child psychotherapists, and then in the training of adult psychoanalysts in Britain. It is now a method that is adopted in an increasing number of psychotherapy trainings. The observer goes to the family home once a week and spends an hour with the baby and mother, forming a relationship that is not professional or therapeutic. Set up as an opportunity for the advantage of the observer, it frequently acts as an important support for the mother herself as a side-effect. For those psychotherapies that accept the importance of early influences in the development of the personality, direct observation of infants in their primary relationships with their mothers is clearly of very great value. At the same time of course the fundamental emotional experience of witnessing this growing relationship is enormously enhancing for the trainee in his own development and for all trainees in their own therapy. The Clinical Commentary shows the different frameworks within which it is possible to consider the infant's earliest relationship.

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