on 11 October 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.
on 26 January 2013
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.