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Kahn, C. (2007). Families Count: Effects on Child and Adolescent Development. Edited by Alison Clarke-Stewart and Judy Dunn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, x + 389 pp.Evocative Strategies in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy. By David A. Crenshaw. Lanham, Md: Jason Aronson, 2006, 297 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(5):847-850.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(5):847-850

Families Count: Effects on Child and Adolescent Development. Edited by Alison Clarke-Stewart and Judy Dunn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, x + 389 pp.Evocative Strategies in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy. By David A. Crenshaw. Lanham, Md: Jason Aronson, 2006, 297 pp.

Review by:
Charlotte Kahn, ED.D.

The benefits of a successful psychoanalysis can be measured not only by the changes in the patients' intrapsychic dynamics, but also in their interpersonal relationships. In their interactions with others, patients transcend their own boundaries to affect and be affected by others in ways increasingly more productive. As this is particularly true of relationships with family members, the treatment of a parent of young children extends the gains through the generations. The individuals in the family do, indeed, count: They do support and enhance (or undermine) each other's well-being, efficacy, and growth, and the adults in the family have undeniable, formative, and enduring effects on the children.

In Families Count: Effects on Child and Adolescent Development, Alison Clarke-Stewart and Judy Dunn and their collaborators—impressive academic sociologists and educators—extend these truisms and stand them on their heads. Rather than beginning with the individual's functioning within the family and the effect on other family members, the contributors focus on the multifunctional role of the family, the stresses of the family system's socioeconomic climate, and the impact of marital discord on children.

According to this view, the family system, with semipermeable boundaries between itself and both the outside society and the children within, becomes the mediator (and often the moderator) between the society and the children. Families interacting “among many systems at multiple levels (e.g., genes, central nervous system, peers, family, school, neighborhood, culture) give rise to child development, with bidirectional influences connecting multiple levels” (p. 9).

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