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Endangered habitat: psychoanalytic psychotherapy after family breakdown and transient care

posted on 15.02.2017, 04:29 by Toone, Emma
Deprivation and neglect have long-term negative consequences for the mental and physical health of children and there is research suggesting that psychoanalytic psychotherapy is an effective form of treatment for these children using a standard treatment frame within the physical setting of the clinic. Due to practical considerations and disruptive circumstances inherent in such cases, a standard treatment frame may not be possible. There is a dearth of research on adapted techniques of psychoanalytic psychotherapy for this client population, and specifically for treatment conducted within the setting of mainstream schools. Using a single-case study of archival work with a child in disrupted family circumstances, the research aims to contribute to knowledge about effective psychotherapeutic interventions for children experiencing significant family disruption. The study details a psychoanalytic psychotherapy treatment conducted in a number of different rooms within two mainstream schools and demonstrates that the treatment was effective despite these changes in setting. The processes of change within the child as a result of the treatment will be discussed. The positive outcomes of the case are consistent with existing literature suggesting adapted forms of psychoanalytic psychotherapy can be an effective method of intervention with this population, if the therapist is adequately supported to maintain her capacity for reverie. Factors thought to be clinically significant and implications for clinical practice and public policy are explored.


Principal supervisor

Nichola Coombs

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Psychology, Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine

Campus location


Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences