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The Thinking Heart: Three levels of psychoanalytic therapy with disturbed children [Paperback]

Anne Alvarez
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 April 2012 041555487X 978-0415554879 1

How do we talk about feelings to children who are cut off from feeling? How do we raise hope and a sense of safety in despairing and terrified children without offering false hope? How do we reach the unreachable child and interest the hardened child?

The Thinking Heart is a natural sequel to Live Company, Anne Alvarez' highly influential and now classic book about working with severely disturbed and damaged children. Building on 50 years experience as a child and adolescent psychotherapist, Alvarez uses detailed and vivid clinical examples of different interactions between therapist and client, and explores the reasons why one type of therapeutic understanding can work rather than another. She also addresses what happens when the therapist gets it wrong.

In The Thinking Heart, Alvarez identifies three different levels of analytic work and communication:

• the explanatory level – the "why - because"

• the descriptive level - the "whatness" of what the child feels

• the intensified vitalizing level  - gaining access to feeling itself for children with chronic dissociation, despairing apathy or 'undrawn' autism.

The book offers a structured schema drawing on and updating some of her classic work. It is designed to help the therapist to find the right level of interpretation in work with clients and, provides particular help with the unreachable child. It will be of use to Psychotherapists, Psychoanalysts, Clinical and Educational Psychologists, Child Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Special needs teachers and carers of disturbed children.

Anne Alvarez is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and is retired Co-Chair for The Autism Service at the Tavistock Clinic, London. She is currently a visiting teacher and lecturer for the Tavistock Clinic, and a Lecturer on the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Society Child Programme.


Frequently Bought Together

The Thinking Heart: Three levels of psychoanalytic therapy with disturbed children + Live Company: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Autistic, Borderline, Deprived and Abused Children + Nurturing Natures: Attachment and Children's Emotional, Sociocultural and Brain Development
Price For All Three: 75.86

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Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (4 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041555487X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415554879
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 153,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"The Thinking Heart would be a useful text for any psychoanalytic scholar, independent psychotherapy practitioner or group of practitioners hoping to deepen their psychoanalytic understanding, particularly in relation to child psychoanalytic sychotherapy... [this book] reminds me why I continue to work with children and why I love it so much, despite the many challenges that go hand in hand with child psychotherapy." - Jenny Perkel, New Therapist, November/December 2012

"The Thinking Heart is a very full and moving book. It repays the careful responsive mindfulness that Alvarez advocates in clinical practice... In this book's lyrical synthesizing of science and art in examining the process and efficacy of psychotherapy with disturbed children, we can indeed hear her heart beat as we hear her think, as though they were one and the same process." - Sarah Sutton, ACP Bulletin, 2012

"Alvarez is a great teacher; her knowledge is immeasurable, her writing is brave and her reflections are humble. She claims that her thoughts are ‘only considerations, because the complexity of the human mind... ensures that there can be no manual’ (p86). I believe that the work of Anne Alvarez is the closest we can get to such a manual." - Jeanine Connor, Therapy Today, November 2012

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional 11 Oct 2012
This is an important book. Anne Alvarez is maybe the pre-eminent child psychotherapist working in the UK today and this book is a distillation of many of her key ideas, many of which have changed the way therapists think and work. She has retained her core psychoanalytic understandings and applied them with great depth as well as subtelty. Alngside this she has used a range of ideas from other traditions, particularly developmental psychology and neuroscience, to open up new angles on therapeutic technique, and in doing so she has pushed back the boundaries of therapeutic work with children and young people. The thinking heart is an apt title, as this is just what Anne Alvarez brings, and her influence will help many therapists, and by extension, aid many children and young people to live more enriched, and easeful lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful sequel to Anne Alvarez's 'Live company'. It explores what she names the 'three levels of psychoanalytic therapy with disturbed children' and will be useful for those (child psychotherapists or other clinicians) who work therapeutically with highly disturbed children.

Her book contains three sections. In the first, she explores 'two part explanatory interpretation' i.e. when one interprets along the lines of you feel / this is happening...because; and I think it also includes more traditional Kleinian transference interpretations. This level of clinical work presupposes the patient's ability for what she calls two-track thinking (that is, some capability to think symbolically). In the second section, she looks at the 'descriptive level' of clinical work, where the therapist helps the patient explore single meanings, one at a time, using empathy & description rather than (necessarily) more complicated interpretations; this section reminded me of many Anna Freudian ideas regarding developmental help. In the third part of the book, she talks of the 'intensified vitalizing level' where the therapist insists on meaning even when there's hardly any to be found (this section, I felt, built more directly on her work in Live company).

Her ideas are highly original in that they combine a classical Kleinian perspective, with a more open independent / contemporary Freudian but also neuroscientific understanding of development. Ultimately, Alvarez creates her own 'mixture' of clinical technique & theory which is inspiring to read about and learn from. All three sections are fascinating and contain a wealth of lively clinical material and technical considerations (as well as theoretical ideas). For the student of psychotherapy as well as for the more experienced clinician who works with children, this volume will definitely prove very useful, and is a pleasure to read.
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