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Erskine, R. (1984). Mary Boston and Rolene Szur (eds): Psychotherapy with Severely Deprived Children. Published R.K.P., 1983. Paperback £5.95.. J. Child Psychother., 10(1):127-129.

(1984). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 10(1):127-129

Mary Boston and Rolene Szur (eds): Psychotherapy with Severely Deprived Children. Published R.K.P., 1983. Paperback £5.95.

Review by:
Ruth Erskine

I enjoyed this book and hopefully it will go some way to dispel the notion that children who have suffered severe emotional and physical disruption in their lives are not suitable candidates for psychotherapy. The book comprises a collection of case studies of children referred for individual psychotherapy at the Tavistock and other clinics and schools in London, and arose out of a multidisciplinary workshop set up to explore their treatment. All of the children were in the care of a local authority, and in the book, there is also consideration given to the network of professionals involved in providing substitute care for these children in the absence of the conventional family.

What impressed me most was the considerable warmth, compassion and dedication of the contributors and their struggles to bear with these children's despair and deprivation. The overall impression is a demystification of psychoanalytic psychotherapy as a privileged resource for the chosen few and a thoughtful appraisal of its application to children who have been subject to abuse, neglect and chaotic family lives. The case material is well-presented, lucid and very readable, and although the degree of loss, pain, rage and anguish can seem overwhelming, throughout the book is maintained a belief that one can “clue into the growing edge of children” despite their damaging experiences and the consequent assaults on the treatment.

The editors discuss the problem of selection for psychotherapy and the difficulty of predicting outcome from the various assessment procedures available.

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