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Roger, J. (2011). Clinical commentary by Jo Roger, child and adolescent psychotherapist and drama therapist working in a West London school for primary aged children with severe and complex learning difficulties. J. Child Psychother., 37(1):80-83.
(2011). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 37(1):80-83
Clinical commentary by Jo Roger, child and adolescent psychotherapist and drama therapist working in a West London school for primary aged children with severe and complex learning difficulties
It was a pleasure to be asked to comment upon this session, which so vividly brings to mind and calls attention to the issues of working psychotherapeutically with children and young people who have such profound disabilities. It is challenging work and it requires us to work at an often uncomfortable threshold of relating and meaning making. The pleasure resides also in being given the opportunity to bring attention to the psychotherapeutic work that we offer in schools.
I feel that at the heart of this work and this particular session is the issue of what it feels like to be making something of the slightest of things – ‘the minutest of happenings’. Whilst this is at the heart of all our work as psychotherapists, the difference, when working with young people who have profound disabilities, is that the slowed down pace, the almost slow motion and amplified sense of things, remains the way and pace of things. There remains an ever-present sense of doubt. The pace of the work in and of itself is experientially challenging. This causes me to wonder whether the length of the session is shortened to manage this experience.
Then there is the question of what to make of these slightest of things. If they are not random acts but represent intentionality, how do we understand them? How do we as the mobile, dextrous, verbal, seeing, hearing and non-disabled make sense of the lived experience of young people who are impaired in some, if not all of these abilities? How do we sustain the capacity to understand and stay in touch with the experience of someone profoundly disabled whilst, simultaneously, remaining in touch with the potency and potential of that person?
What I know from my own work is that it is a common worry that we are either making something out of nothing, failing to understand something important or just plain misunderstanding.
[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.]