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Zaphiriou Woods, M. Pretorius, I. (2016). Observing, playing and supporting development: Anna Freud’s toddler groups past and present. J. Child Psychother., 42(2):135-151.

(2016). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 42(2):135-151

Observing, playing and supporting development: Anna Freud’s toddler groups past and present

Marie Zaphiriou Woods and Inge-Martine Pretorius

This paper describes an approach to working therapeutically with parents and toddlers in groups as practiced at the Anna Freud Centre. By intervening early to prevent later disturbance, the parent–toddler groups continue the tradition begun by Anna Freud in the Jackson Nursery in Vienna, the War Nurseries in and around London, and the Hampstead Clinic following the Second World War. Common features include the commitment to working with children and their parents, to observation, training and research, and to finding techniques that address developmental needs, delays and disturbances. Just as children select the specific therapeutic elements they need from a classical child analytic setting, parents and toddlers select what they need from what Anna Freud described as the various ‘therapeutic possibilities’ provided by the parent–toddler groups. The parent–toddler relationship is supported during a period which is crucial for future development, difficulties are identified and addressed before they become entrenched, and, where necessary, timely referrals are made to clinical services on the basis of the trusting relationships developed between the staff and parents in the groups.

[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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