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Laufer, M. (1975). Preventive Intervention in Adolescence. Psychoanal. St. Child, 30:511-528.

(1975). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 30:511-528

Preventive Intervention in Adolescence

Moses Laufer, Ph.D.

PREVENTIVE INTERVENTION IN ADOLESCENCE IS AN AREA OF WORK about which we still know very little, and about which there exist various and contradictory views. Some people believe that the most that should be done during adolescence is to support and counsel. Others believe that intervention should, when necessary, include intensive treatment. Some people state categorically that the process of adolescence and the tasks facing every adolescent are such that it might actually be harmful to intervene before the person has reached adulthood. Others seem less sure about this; they believe that a short period of intervention revolving around specific problems may be useful.

My own views are that, even though the process of adolescence is not well understood, psychoanalytic theory and practice has made available to us important guides which can be used to help many adolescents whose problems may range from transitory disturbances to acute mental breakdowns. However, my own experience, as well as that of colleagues who work with adolescents, indicates that it is not only our limited knowledge which hinders us in this work, but that the somewhat haphazard application of what we do know about mental functioning and about adolescence to the problem of assessment adds to our difficulties. Many of the new and the so-called


Director, Brent Consultation Centre/Centre for the Study of Adolescence, London; part-time staff member, Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic.

This paper was presented at the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic, October 1974.

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