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Van Dam, H. Heinicke, C.M. Shane, M. (1975). On Termination in Child Analysis. Psychoanal. St. Child, 30:443-474.

(1975). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 30:443-474

On Termination in Child Analysis

Heiman Van Dam, M.D., Christoph M. Heinicke, Ph.D. and Morton Shane, M.D.


In this paper we attempt to demonstrate the usefulness, in assessing termination, of an evenly distributed attention to all factors determining the child's overall functioning. Attention is given as well to the quantitative and qualitative changes that occurred in the analysis. Instead of a simple formula or set of criteria for termination, we suggest a multiple aspect view of the child during the pretermination period. The termination process is seen not only as a treatment phase in which ongoing conflicts continue to be analyzed, especially in the transference, but also as a period in which the loss of the analyst as a real person has to be dealt with. Setting the termination date evokes case-specific and phase-appropriate defense mechanisms. Here, to use Anna Freud's term, the analyst may have to give "analytic aid" (van Dam, 1971) in what the child's ego cannot yet accomplish by itself to enable the child to cope with termination and bring about closure of the analytic process in the best possible way.

Uncontrollable events occurring around termination, for example, Amy's entrance into puberty, her mother's hysterectomy, and the parents' divorce, are unavoidable in analytic work. They force us to be cautious in making generalizations concerning our own observations, and challenge us to reexamine our conclusions on the basis of careful follow-up studies.

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