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Boston, M. (1989). In Search of a Methodology for Evaluating Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Children. J. Child Psychother., 15(1):15-46.

(1989). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 15(1):15-46

In Search of a Methodology for Evaluating Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Children

Mary Boston


Child psychotherapists are not noted for their enthusiasm for research. In fact there has long been a split between the academic researcher and the clinician, each discipline pursuing its separate ways, with minimal interaction between the two, or, worse, active disparagement of the other. Psychotherapists often consider the data which concern the researchers to be meaningless or superficial, for example

“too many researchers have all along been studying meaningless and irrelevant variables, in order to measure something, because it is too difficult to isolate and measure meaningful and relevant ones” (Malan, 1963).

On the other hand, researchers often believe psychotherapists' inferences to be highly subjective and unsubstantiated and even inimical to scientific enquiry for example

Psychoanalysis is burdened with a theory that permits the invalidation of attempts to alter it as well as disqualifying techniques operating outside the analytic framework” (Fisch, 1965, quoted by Lask, 1980).

The personality qualities required for exploring the depths of the inner world may well be different from those needed by the researcher taking a more global and perhaps more rigorously objective view. Yet it seems sad if the two approaches to phenomena of general interest in the human sciences and in child care should remain apart, rather than complementing and cross-fertilising each other. In the field of child development, Kaye (1977) has suggested that the “macro-analytic” can complement the “micro-analytic” approach, just as the wide angled lens needs finer details filled in by the zoom lens.

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