Building on relational conceptualizations of enactment and on developmental research that attests to the role of embodied, nonverbal language in the meanings children impute to their experiences, Sebastiano Santostefano offers this compelling demonstration of effective child therapy conducted in the “great outdoors.” Specifically, he argues that, for the child, traumatic life-metaphors should be resolved at an embodied rather than an exclusively verbal level; they should be resolved, that is, as they are enacted between child and therapist. To this end, child and therapist must take advantage of all the indoor and outdoor environments available to them. As they take therapy to nontraditional places, relying on the nonverbal vocabulary they have constructed together, they move toward enacted solutions to relational crises, solutions that revise the child’s sense of self and ability to form new and productive relationships.
Table of Contents
1. Interacting and Enacting with a Therapist and Environments: the Path to the Pathway of Change
2. Ernest: I Detached My Embodied Self from Relationships Because of the Pain and Emotional Deprivation I Experienced
3. Vera: Abandoned at the Doorstep of an Orphanage, I Battled the Abuse I Embodied to Gain My Freedom
4. Ernest and Vera from the Vantage Point of Environmental Psychology and Ecopsychology
5. A Psychoanalytic-Relational-Developmental Model for Conducting Child Psychotherapy 6. Environments, Interactions, and Embodied Meanings: Probing How Three Are One.
"Santostefano has written a groundbreaking, brilliant, highly readable, and well-reasoned work in support of the argument that effective child therapy needs to move beyond traditional language-based modalities and into the arena of embodiment. This idea that thoughts, beliefs, desires, wishes, and affects arise from bodily interactions with the world has become increasingly central to developmental psychology, and Santostefano does a first-rate job of articulating its therapeutic implications, including the nonverbal interactions and enactments it entails. While the author speaks most directly to the child therapist, the book will be highly valuable for all change agents, including adult therapists, parents, educators, and most broadly, all students of human development."
- Willis F. Overton, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Temple University
“Santostefano's thinking, grounded in developmental theory and contemporary relational psychoanalytic ideas, emphasizes both the intimate involvement of the body in the child’s construction of meaning and the evocative power that different environments may have for a child. He is a skilled and creative clinician who anchors each step of his theory-building in the closely observed, richly described nitty-gritty of extended case illustrations.”
- Jay Frankel, Ph.D., Associate Editor, Psychoanalytic Dialogues