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Gatti, P. (2011). The locked box in the attic: ghosts and memories. J. Child Psychother., 37(2):147-162.

(2011). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 37(2):147-162

The locked box in the attic: ghosts and memories

Patrizia Gatti

The author discusses the technical difficulties encountered in clinical work with children who have suffered an early trauma, as is often the case for fostered and adopted children. An account of the first five years of psychotherapy with a nine-year-old boy, who was removed from his birth family at an early age, will be elaborated in some detail to explore these issues. Particular difficulties are discussed that relate to maintaining an analytic position while working with highly disturbed object relations. Questions are raised about how to facilitate a therapeutic space within which the trauma is worked but does not become the sole focus of treatment in a destructive way. It is argued that the acknowledgement, sharing and greater understanding of the trauma together with the patient helps to transform traumatic memories or ‘ghosts’. When therapy can become a place of change and restitution, this lays the foundation for another kind of experience.

[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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