Bringing Our Histories into School-Based Therapy : How Therapists' Backstories Enrich Work with Children and Young People book cover
1st Edition

Bringing Our Histories into School-Based Therapy
How Therapists' Backstories Enrich Work with Children and Young People

Edited By

Lyn French


Reva Klein

  • Available for pre-order on April 11, 2023. Item will ship after May 2, 2023
ISBN 9781032218885
May 2, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
248 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This is a book that delves into the relationship between therapists’ sometimes fraught engagement with their own emotional histories and that of their clients, offering a creative template for opening up important conversations.

Each of the chapter authors contributing to this volume focuses on seminal life events that inflect the emotional tenor and quality of attunement in the consulting room. A broad range of subjects is covered which either highlight themes around identity or reflect the kinds of challenges which bring young people to therapy including bereavement, the experience of otherness, dislocation and migration, disrupted family relationships and life-threatening illness.

With compelling clinical vignettes illuminating the resonances between therapists’ stories and those of the clients they present, this book is an engaging and insightful read for all practitioners in the field, especially those working in child and adolescent mental health.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. Not a Blank Slate: The Role of Our Own History in Our Therapeutic Work  2. Stepping into the Unknown: Reflections on Transitions  3. Shame, Guilt, Secrets and Lies: How Differentness Within and Outside the Family Shapes our Sense of Self  4. Feeling Dislocated: Some Personal and Clinical Reflections on the Experiences of Relocated Families  5. Mother and Other Tongues: Personal Experiences and Clinical Reflections  6. The Biafran War: A Transgenerational Legacy  7.Sibling Death: Mourning in Childhood and Beyond  8. Separation and Loss in Adolescence: The Impact of the Iranian Revolution  9. Holding on Tightly, Learning to Let Go: Personal Experiences and Clinical Reflections  10. Masculinity and the Male Therapist: The Internal and External Struggles  11. Suspended Animation: A Traumatic Family History Without a Context  12. My Story, Our Story: Co-Parenting Two Adopted Boys  13. One of Many: The Impact of Growing Up in a Large Family  14. The Search for Belonging: An Unfolding Story  15. The Meaning of Home: The Loss of the 'Motherland' and How This Shapes the Formation of Identity  16. Parenting a Child Through a Life-Threatening Illness: Then and Now  Epilogue

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Lyn French is a psychotherapist, supervisor and author with over 25 years’ experience in the field of school-based psychotherapy. She is the Director of A Space, a psychotherapy service running in partnership with the London Borough of Hackney. In partnership with the Institute of International Visual Arts, Lyn has co-published numerous sets of emotional learning cards which use contemporary art, commentary and questions to open up conversations in and outside of therapy sessions.

Reva Klein is a child and adolescent counsellor and adult psychoanalytic psychotherapist. She supervises therapists at A Space and sees clients and supervisees in private practice. Reva has written extensively on children’s mental health issues.


‘Emotional health comes with a roomy ability to bear a range of feeling states, to ‘fold into’ our being aspects of ourselves we might otherwise disown. This book is an important contribution to the field of child and adolescent psychotherapy, enabling therapeutic professionals to own our own ‘shadows’ in the interests of those we work with.’

Graham Music, psychotherapist, trainer, supervisor, lecturer and author

‘Understanding how psychodynamic therapy or counselling works is a challenge for many young people seeking help. This book demonstrates how, after their training, psychotherapists and counsellors are able to use their humanity and life experiences to enable them to provide sensitive, thoughtful help to their young clients whilst retaining a professional boundary. Each author reflects on how young people's stories can resonate with life experiences of their own, leading to a compassionate understanding of the issues adolescents bring to therapy.’

Judith Trowell, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, child analyst and author

‘What is most distinctive about this rich and enlivening book is the readiness of its writers not only to hold in mind the relevance of their clients’ personal histories to their everyday troubled lives, but to reflect on their own backstories and the influence of those experiences on their psychotherapeutic work. They discuss what they themselves bring to the psychotherapeutic relationship - memories, tensions, anxieties - that are not so dissimilar to those of the young people they endeavour to help and which have the power to facilitate or indeed inhibit the therapeutic process. Their self-awareness, which they demonstrate throughout these chapters through vivid narratives, is crucial both to deepen the understanding of young peoples’ problems and to ensure their own appropriate therapeutic discipline in the inevitable intimacy of their psychotherapeutic relationships. It is of great credit to the co-editors and the writers in this book that their explorations of thought and practice are expressed with such refreshing candor as well as courage.’

Peter Wilson, consultant child psychotherapist and founder/former director of YoungMinds

‘None of us got into this work without reference to our own personal backstories. When it comes to working with children and young people, our own childhoods are especially poignant. While we’re all familiar with the idea of "the wounded healer" in theory, the way in which we integrate our own personal wounds and triumphs into therapy work has been less accessible - until now. This important book highlights the very human personal journeys and their role in the work we do with children and young people and is a must read anyone who wants to bring themselves fully, responsibly, and ethically to the work.’

Aaron Balick, psychotherapist, supervisor, author, and director of Stillpoint, an international psychology hub