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Heineman, T. (2012). Introduction. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 11(4):297-298.

(2012). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 11(4):297-298



Toni Heineman

I am honored to have the opportunity to bring the articles in this special issue of the Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy to the attention of our readers. Each article offers a rich and detailed picture of the complex emotional needs of one or more vulnerable populations. The articles also highlight the psychological toll that working with at risk groups takes on therapists and others charged with providing care for children and families whose internal worlds are often fragile and external worlds are often dangerous and chaotic.

The children and parents we meet in this volume come to treatment with a multitude of challenges that are not easily understood or addressed. Yet in the current economic and therapeutic climate, those in the mental health fields are often expected to produce quick and measurable results with very limited resources. Too often, those with the least training are asked to do the hardest work with the least amount of support.

The articles in this volume, whether considered individually or together, make it abundantly clear that quick fixes simply are not possible for adults or children who have been traumatized—frequently many times over. They also underscore the need for those working with traumatized groups to protect themselves from psychological exhaustion in order to maintain the emotional vitality that is necessary for effective work.

The first article in the volume was a keynote address at the Nurturing Parents Conference held in Denver, Colorado, in October 2011. “‘Terrible Twos’ and ‘Terrible Teens,’” by Joan Raphael-Leff, brings a developmental lens to the world of teen parents and their children.

“Containment, Trauma, and Coherence,” by Marian Birch and Quen Zorrah, was the keynote address at the May 2011 Conference of the Washington Chapter of the World Association of Infant Mental Health. The authors walk us through the almost paralyzingly painful family treatment following the infant's being brutally abused by his father.

As the title indicates, “The ‘Dead Mother Syndrome’ and the Child in Care: A Framework for Reflecting on Why Some Children Experience Multiple Placement Breakdowns,” by Carolyn Hart, explores the psychological contributions to the frequent moves many children suffer in foster care.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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