Change Processes in Child Psychotherapy : Revitalizing Treatment and Research book cover
1st Edition

Change Processes in Child Psychotherapy
Revitalizing Treatment and Research

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ISBN 9781572300958
Published September 24, 1996 by Guilford Press
395 Pages

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Book Description

This groundbreaking work advances a developmental perspective on both the basic processes of therapeutic change and the classification of childhood problems, offering a novel approach to the search for effective treatments for children. Generating a new flow of ideas between clinical practice and empirical research, the volume revitalizes basic modalities such as psychodynamic, play, and cognitive therapies by identifying the core ingredients that enhance and retard the processes of change. The authors also demonstrate the limitations of utilizing diagnostic labels as the basis for assessing treatment efficacy, arguing instead for an integrative approach that links methods of intervention with a case-relevant analysis of the child's emotional, interpersonal, and cognitive development.

Table of Contents

I. Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Child Psychotherapy
1. The Domain of Child Psychotherapy.
2. The Effects of Child Psychotherapy: Outcome Research.
3. The Process of Child Psychotherapy: Process Research.
4. Conceptual Interlude: Essential Ingredients for Revitalizing Child Psychotherapy.

II. Change Processes in Child Psychotherapy
5. Interpersonal Change Processes
6. Emotional Change Processes.
7. Cognitive Change Processes.

III. Case Formulations in Child Psychotherapy.
8. Treatment Selection: Formulations of Pathogenic Processes.
9. Formulation-Guided Child Psychotherapy: Case Studies.
10. Change Processes and Case Formulations: Conclusions:

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Stephen R. Shirk, Ph.D., is Director of the Child Study Center and Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Denver. He has authored a variety of papers on the role of developmental processes in child treatment, and has edited a volume on child therapy and development entitled Cognitive Development and Child Psychotherapy. The focus of his current research is on interpersonal processes in child psychotherapy and child psychopathology.

Robert L. Russell, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Loyola University Chicago. He has authored numerous journal articles on psychotherapy process and outcome, and has edited special sections on psychotherapy research in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, and Clinical Psychology Review. He has also edited two books, Language in Psychotherapy: Strategies of Discovery and Reassessing Psychotherapy Research. In 1989 he was awarded the Early Career Contribution Award by the Society for Psychotherapy Research. His current work focuses on discourse and narrative processes in child and adult psychotherapy and in the social adjustment of learning disabled and conduct disordered children.


Shirk and Russell provide a much needed addition to the too often neglected interface between clinical practice and empirical research. These authors eloquently argue that child clinicians and researchers in clinical and developmental psychology must share their respective expertise if child psychotherapy is to continue to evolve and survive as a viable form of treatment. Change Processes in Child Psychotherapy does much to bridge the schism between research and practice and holds considerable promise for facilitating dialogue and the cross fertilization of ideas between those providing treatment and those invested in understanding developmental child psychopathology. This volume will be an important addition to striving to ameliorate the suffering of troubled children. --Dante Cicchetti, Ph.D.

The contributions of this volume are manifold. First, it includes an unparalleled, comprehensive review of the status of psychotherapy research with children. At the same time, while it presents a critical and sobering overview of research on child psychotherapy, it maintains a wide and optimistic perspective of the literature. The balanced, comprehensive review alone should establish this as a standard reference for the field, but it goes further. It also offers a novel, integrative way of conceptualizing child and adolescent psychotherapy. This view is clearly integrationist in breadth and empirical in foundation. The authors argue for disbanding traditional brand name labels and diagnostic distinctions as the basis for assessing treatment efficacy, in favor of an approach that develops treatment-relevant case conceptualizations from an analysis of the child's emotional, interpersonal, and cognitive development. Thus, they integrate developmental literature, research on psychopathology, and psychotherapy concepts into a process that addresses those common and distinctive aspects of children's behaviors that differentially enhance and retard psychotherapeutic processes.

This volume represents a needed approach in child and adolescent psychotherapy, and offers revitalization to a field that suffers from the lack of empirical findings that are so necessary for advancement. This is a well-researched volume that is comprehensive in scope, integrative in view, and optimistic in perspective. Thank you for the opportunity of getting an advanced look at this volume. --Larry E. Beutler, Ph.D., Professor, Director, Counseling/Clinical/School Psychology Program