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Zacharia, E. (2019). Revealing the inner world of traumatised children and young people: an attachment-informed model for assessing emotional needs and treatment. Psychoanal. Psychother., 33(1):62-64.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 33(1):62-64

Book Reviews

Revealing the inner world of traumatised children and young people: an attachment-informed model for assessing emotional needs and treatment

Eleni Zacharia

This is a very interesting and useful book for anyone working with traumatised children, especially at this point in time when limited resources and a narrow focus on short-term therapies have seriously affected specialised services for children and young people who have suffered trauma. The preface by John Whitwell takes the reader back to a time when people with innovative and child-centred ideas were able to realise them and attempted breakthrough transformations in places such as the Cotswold Community. The Cotswold Community was transformed by R. Balbernie, B. Dockar-Drysdale and others from an approved school to an internationally known therapeutic community for the recovery of emotionally unintegrated children in the late 1960s. Christine Bradley’s experience of working in the Cotswold Community for a decade is discussed throughout the book as it formed the basis of her model of understanding and treating trauma.

In the introduction Bradley describes her wish to draw together her lifelong experience of working with traumatised children and share her knowledge with colleagues about how to reach out to these children and contain their unbearable pain and anxiety. Bradley considers this to be particularly important given the ‘outcomes led and short-term goals culture’ that has taken hold, which limits practitioners’ capacity to be creative and available enough to provide a secure base for traumatised children on a day-to-day basis.

This book offers a developmental view and provides the reader with a theoretical framework based on Bowlby’s and Winnicott’s ideas, with a particular emphasis on the concepts of integration and disintegration. In the first chapter, Alistair Cooper discusses infants’ readiness to relate and interact in meaningful ways, and how traumatic situations of toxic stress and mis-attuned parenting alter the architecture of the brain and can be detrimental for the development of the self. In Chapter 2 Bowlby’s and Winnicott’s key ideas are presented and discussed in parallel, as both shared the belief that the mother–infant relationship is crucial for the development of the personality and that unmet needs and traumatic experiences early in life impact on children’s view of reality and the way they form relationships.

[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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