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Horne, A. (1989). Sally: A Middle Group Approach to Early Trauma in a Latency Child. J. Child Psychother., 15(1):79-98.

(1989). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 15(1):79-98

Sally: A Middle Group Approach to Early Trauma in a Latency Child

Ann Horne

I shall call this child Sally. She, in turn, with unconscious felicity, has called me a variety of names: for the first several months absolutely no name at all; then in a moving but also threatening symbiosis of both our names, “Sally-Ann”, which swiftly became a “rubbish name”; “Annie-girl” appeared to offer a safe, affectionate distance which allowed therapy to proceed; more recently I have simply become “ratface”.

These names mirror the progress of therapy, each one representing a major psychic issue and heralding a new development in the work. Before detailing this process, however, I shall outline how Sally came to be referred and give some family history.


Sally was 8 ¾ years old when her South London school referred her to their educational psychologist, concerned about the child's inability to learn, her day-dreaming, rocking and withdrawn behaviour mixed with very occasional outbursts of provocative behaviour towards other children in which she often appeared to set herself up as a victim. Sally seemed isolated and experienced difficulty in making friends, her loneliness having intensified since her sister Suzanne had moved on to secondary school that summer. She was also often mistaken by staff for a boy.

The Educational Psychologist quickly noted an eye defect (Sally was then equipped with spectacles) and also organised that a voluntary helper provide aid with reading for an hour per week. Nevertheless she expressed continued concern over “the emotional aspects of Sally's difficulties” and referred the family to the local Child Guidance Unit with a request for individual psychotherapy for Sally.

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