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Sheppard, N. (2019). Intellectual disability and psychotherapy; the theories, practice and influence of Valerie Sinason: edited by Alan Corbett, Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge, 2019, 189 pp., £29.99 (paperback), ISBN 9781138323629. Psychoanal. Psychother., 33(3):218-221.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 33(3):218-221

Intellectual disability and psychotherapy; the theories, practice and influence of Valerie Sinason: edited by Alan Corbett, Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge, 2019, 189 pp., £29.99 (paperback), ISBN 9781138323629

Nancy Sheppard

This book is, without doubt, an essential read for any professional working with people with disabilities. Alan Corbett has brought together an eclectic range of chapters that not only highlight the seminal thinking and influence of Valerie Sinason, but also describe the development of her thinking into a comprehensive theory of disability psychotherapy from both personal and professional perspectives. This book illustrates how, through brave and pioneering direct work with people with disabilities, Sinason established her groundbreaking theory, and how she clearly described her concepts through her writing. The authors are united in their sense that the dissemination of her theories through her published work, presentations at conferences, teaching and supervising has been a fundamental factor in establishing a deeper understanding of their own work with people with intellectual disabilities.

The book tackles some difficult topics related to the historical treatment of people with learning disabilities head on, and it therefore follows that some of the chapters may present a challenge to readers unfamiliar with how disability was understood and managed in the past. From the early 1980s when Sinason joined the then titled ‘Sub-normality Workshop’ at the Tavistock Clinic with Neville Symington and Jon Stokes, Graeme Galton’s chapter describes how her increasing awareness of intellectual disabilities and sensitive introduction of toys into her therapy rooms allowed the children she was working with to speak the unspeakable and disclose their experiences of abuse.

[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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