Child Therapy in the Great Outdoors: A Relational View, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Child Therapy in the Great Outdoors

A Relational View, 1st Edition

By Sebastiano Santostefano


250 pages

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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.


"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

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.

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / Adolescent
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / Child & Adolescent
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health