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Keller, L.E. (2011). Repairing Links: Building Attachments in the Preschool Classroom. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 59(4):737-763.

(2011). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 59(4):737-763

Original Papers

Repairing Links: Building Attachments in the Preschool Classroom

L. Eileen Keller

A psychoanalytic model of preschool consultation is presented, born of the conviction that psychoanalysis has powerful tools with which to tackle some of our most difficult and entrenched community problems. Since trauma is known to impact our ability to think reflectively and symbolically (Fonagy, Moran, and Target 1993), the clinical methods of psychoanalysis—drawing on the ideas of container/contained, the capacity to hold alternate points of view, and the capacity to reflect empathically (here with teachers in the face of their at times harsh and insensitive treatment of students)—are crucial to success in work with cumulatively traumatized staff (Khan 1963). The strongest resistances to consultation arise from an anti-attachment system developed as a result of cumulative trauma and operating at multiple levels in the preschool. Consultation services are organized around an understanding of this anti-attachment system. At various levels of the system, including staff, parents, and children, consultants work to facilitate secure relationships in the preschool setting. These relationships foster recognition of children's emotional complexities and build cooperative links between staff and parents, in an atmosphere that otherwise might often push adults into fearful, self-protective states that interfere with their contact with children's states of mind.

To put one brick upon another,

Add a third, and then a fourth,

Leaves no time to wonder whether

What you do has any worth.

—Philip Larkin (c. 1951)

[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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