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Hagelskjær, M. (2017). Play Room as a psychological assessment method in cases of alleged child sexual abuse. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 40(1):43-53.

(2017). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 40(1):43-53

Play Room as a psychological assessment method in cases of alleged child sexual abuse

Marie Hagelskjær

This article presents an example of how psychoanalytic theory can be implemented in practice. The aim is to introduce and discuss the semi-projective material ‘Play Room’ which was originally developed to support prevention of sexual abuse among vulnerable children in Denmark. However, a recent study has shown that, when measured with a scale called Ability to Answer, children exposed to sexual abuse talked about the illustrations in Play Room in a significantly different way than did a clinical sample and a normal control group. The finding indicates the potential for expanding the scope of Play Room from prevention into clinical assessment, in cases of alleged child sexual abuse. Taking its starting point in the theory of Jean Laplanche, this article will discuss how psychoanalytic concepts such as seduction, translation, asymmetry, absence, and listening to listening can be used to describe the practice around Play Room. It is argued that, through the use of Play Room, the psychologist can encircle the lack of symbolization and inhibited creation of psychic representations that children exposed to sexual abuse typically convey. The discussion of Play Room’s assessment potential will be further fed by data from interviews with clinical child psychologists.

[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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