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Malberg, N.T. (2013). A Caged Life: A Girl's Discovery of Freedom Through the Co-Creation of Her Life's Narrative. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 12(2):59-71.

(2013). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 12(2):59-71


A Caged Life: A Girl's Discovery of Freedom Through the Co-Creation of Her Life's Narrative

Norka T. Malberg

The impact of the ongoing experience of mental illness of a sibling and the absence of a functioning parental couple on the developmental pathway of a 16-year-old young woman is explored through the developmental psychoanalytic lens. A clinical description of her developmental journey while caught in the midst of the breakdown of her family system and a sense of developmental “stuckness” (an experience she encapsulates within the metaphor of the caged bird) is provided. The importance of a clear clinical formulation which holds the psychotherapist's capacity to mentalize and fosters the emergence of creativity and flexibility within the therapeutic dyad when working with adolescents is emphasized. Furthermore, the role of “clashing cultures” in the family, and in this case within the therapeutic dyad, is reflected upon in the context of working in the transference. In summary, this clinical paper illustrates the value of working actively with parents of adolescents and exploring creative ways of helping young people find a coherent narrative from which to restore the process of separation and individuation in a way which honors their cultural and developmental reality.

[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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