An Independent Practitioner's Introduction to Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy : Playing with Ideas book cover
1st Edition

An Independent Practitioner's Introduction to Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy
Playing with Ideas

ISBN 9781138506275
Published April 2, 2019 by Routledge
204 Pages

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Book Description

An Independent Practitioner's Introduction to Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy: Playing with Ideas is a comprehensive guide to child and adolescent psychotherapy, taking the practitioner from the initial meeting through the therapeutic process with young people of different ages, to the ending of psychotherapy. It includes approaches to working with parents and the family, introduces theoretical ideas simply and provides references for further learning.

Part of the popular Independent Psychoanalytic Approaches series, this book is written from an Independent perspective, but it is also an account of Deirdre Dowling’s approach, developed from her considerable experience of working in the NHS and now as a private practitioner.

An Independent Practitioner's Introduction to Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy will be an indispensable guide for child psychotherapists (especially trainees), colleagues working in child and family mental health settings, play therapists, counsellors and support staff in schools and child care professionals working therapeutically in residential and community settings.

Table of Contents


Foreword Ann Horne & Monica Lanyado



Part 1: Mapping the territory

Chapter 1 The therapeutic process

Chapter 2 Creating a therapeutic setting

Chapter 3 Making an assessment and starting the work

Chapter 4 Approaches to child psychotherapy with children of different ages

Chapter 5 Reflections on brief psychotherapy

Chapter 6 Engaging with parents

Chapter 7 Pleasures and challenges of working in a team

Part 2: Hard times: the challenges of child psychotherapy

Chapter 8 Facing despair, doubt and anger – and finding hope

Chapter 9 Learning from mistakes, losing my way and the value of supervision

Chapter 10 Working towards an ending

Part 3: Therapeutic work with children and parents in crisis

Chapter 11 Behind closed doors: therapeutic work with children and adolescents living with mentally ill and vulnerable parents

Chapter 12 Therapeutic work with children whose parents have separated or divorced

Part 4: Taking child psychotherapy outside the psychotherapy room

Chapter 13 New pathways: applying psychotherapy to other settings

Final thoughts: playing with ideas



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Deirdre Dowling was Head Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Cassel Hospital, West London Mental Health Trust. She trained at the British Association of Psychotherapists, qualifying first as a child and adolescent psychotherapist in 1991, then as an adult psychotherapist in 2006. She worked at the British Psychotherapy Foundation for 5 years as Curriculum Lead of the Independent Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Training and is also a teacher and supervisor.


"I can highly recommend this comprehensive and clear guide to the many aspects of the child psychotherapist’s work, both in public and private settings. Deirdre Dowling’s approach to child psychoanalytic psychotherapy has been influenced by her training and interest in the British Independent tradition in psychotherapy, as well as ideas from any school that helps illuminate a way forward – very much a Winnicottian approach. She looks in detail at the therapeutic process, such as creating a therapeutic setting, making assessments, engaging with parents and working in a team. She also faces the challenges of the work, such as when despair, doubt and anger have to be faced. And she looks at child therapy in a variety of settings. All of this is illustrated with clear and vivid clinical examples. Her book will appeal to professionals and families seeking help."

  • Roger Kennedy, Training Analyst at the British Psychoanalytical Society, Consultant Child Psychiatrist and Chair of The Child and Family Practice

"This is a book that that honours the creative, imaginative and ultimately therapeutic process of children’s play. Beyond that, Deirdre Dowling provides an honest, informative and comprehensive overview of the process of child psychotherapy and all that this means. Dowling’s knowledge and experience shines throughout, the book’s narrative enriched by poignant accounts of her practice. That said, she is also unafraid to name the self-doubt, the questioning and sometimes profound personal and professional challenges that accompany working with deeply troubled children."

  • David Le Vay, Play Therapist/Dramatherapist, Senior Lecturer MA Play Therapy, University of Roehampton, London, and Clinical Partner with the Bridge Therapy Centre.

"This is a remarkable book, describing the process of child and adolescent psychotherapy in clear and vivid detail, and is compelling to read. At a time when manuals on various kinds of therapy are required, this book is essential, enriched with compassion, patience and humour. The title ‘Playing with Ideas’ shows Deirdre Dowling’s own way of making a creative space with patients, but play is not trivial, it includes dealing with ‘the complexity of the body and mind, and our natural resistance to exploring painful issues and facing change’; the painful feelings of both therapist and patient and how these are managed are described. The book is rich in examples of the history of child and adolescent psychotherapy, in vignettes from stories and films illustrating emotions, and in moving case examples from patients.

Deirdre Dowling is honest and generous in describing her own emotions in working with distressed children and young people. This book should be read by anyone who wants to work as a therapist with such children- it is realistic about the effort, but inspiring about its effect. Teachers, social workers and doctors will also feel they understand better the children and young people in their care."

  • Dilys Daws, Honorary Consultant Child Psychotherapist, Tavistock Clinic, Adviser to the Association for Infant Mental Health-UK, Author of ‘Through the Night: helping parents and sleepless infants’ (1993) and ‘Finding Your Way With Your Baby: the emotional life of parents and babies’ with Alexandria de Rementeria (2015)