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  • This blog provides a forum for discussion of therapeutic technique, including cognitive behavioural and psychodynamic technique. The focus of the blog is on psychotherapeutic technique and issues in the room rather than case or theoretical discussions. At the bottom of each post is a comments section. Feel free to make any comments you like. Please remember this blog is a public forum.

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  • Chris Allan is a clinical psychologist and Director of the Psychology Clinic at the University of Wollongong. He has a strong interest in both cognitive and psychodynamic therapies and an ongoing fascination in the interaction of technology and psychology. His interests are varied and include martial arts, playing guitar, cooking, chess, clothes, poetry and computer gaming. He is married with two children two dogs and a budgie.

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« Guest Blogger of the Week | Main | How to Talk to Adolescents »


Yvette Vardy

I'd be really interested in hearing about ways to handle a session when a child is misbehaving in the room (e.g. throwing things around) when the parents are present, either because the child ignores the parent(s) or because the parent doesn't try to intervene.


Thanks for your comment Yvette. Mark has a part II coming out next week which may answer this question.


Mark Donovan

In response to Yvette's question about a child throwing objects around the room, I had one of my few experience of this (in 15 years of therapy) a month ago with a 7yo boy who upturned table, chairs, and threw pens and his shoes at me as he walked into the room, and kicked me in the shins on the way out - he didn't want to be there! The FAQs posted a couple of weeks ago provide some ideas for this situation. I always try to think about the behaviour within the wider context.

In my situation, the behaviour was part of a wider testing out of whether adults could place limits for the child concerned, and whether these would be consistently maintained. It was important that we as adults (Mum and I) remained calm and let the child know that this behaviour would not mean he could get out of the session earlier. He had been sent home from school on many occasions for similar behaviour, which he experienced as getting his own way. In a different context, it may have been important to terminate the session immediately to provide the message that such behaviour was unacceptable and would not be tolerated. In this situation, future sessions with the child were scheduled for 15-20 minute reviews (for medication mostly). The 'real work' was done through supporting Mum to provide those consistent boundaries and consequences in a loving but firm manner.

For those interested in thinking about the dynamics between parents and young children further, I strongly recommend looking at the Circle of Security approach: http://www.circleofsecurity.org/
The CoS approach provides a family-friendly way of conceptualising the relationship/ attachment issues. One of the 'mantras' of this approach is the following advice (to all parents):
Always be: Bigger, Stronger, Wiser and Kind
Whenever possible: Follow the Child's Need
Whenever necessary: Take Charge
More on the CoS approach in a future Blog...

Anthony Pisani

Terrific post. A resource I use a lot to orient people to family interviewing is this one:
Weber, T., McKeever, J. E., & McDaniel, S. H. (1985). A beginner's guide to the problem-oriented first family interview. Family Process, 24(3), 357-364.


Calvin Klein

thank you1

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