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Miller, L. (2007). Infant Observation at The Heart of Training By Janine Sternberg London: Karnac. 2005. 267 p.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 88(1):253-255.

(2007). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 88(1):253-255

Infant Observation at The Heart of Training By Janine Sternberg London: Karnac. 2005. 267 p.

Review by:
Lisa Miller

Not everybody, of course, thinks that infant observation is ‘at the heart of training’; at the heart of training, that is, in psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy. In child psychotherapy maybe; but not all other professionals in the field are sure of the relevance to their work of this rather particular discipline instituted by Esther Bick at the inception of the child psychotherapy training at the Tavistock Clinic in 1948. She was sure of the central part infant observation could—and in her view should—play in the training of psychoanalysts too, as she makes clear in Bick (1964), published 2 years after infant observation had been introduced into the curriculum of the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London. And the use of this discipline in a wide range of trainings has spread beyond London, so that the International Journal of Infant Observation and its Applications publishes 3 issues per year, and in 2006, was in volume 9.

However, it is not simply that some people remain unconvinced of the value of doing a baby observation: quite a lot of people do not know what it entails and what might be thought to be the benefits it brings. It is supposed, by those who have faith in it, to develop the intellectual and emotional muscle of the observer. The practice is this: every week, by careful prearrangement, the trainee visits a family at a regular time to observe an infant in context. There is usually at least one visit before the baby is born, and after the birth observations begin as soon as possible and go on until the child is 1-2 years old.

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