Margaret Rustin’s writing is characterised not only by its subject matter, which is diverse, but by her imaginative sensitivity to the emotional lives of children and young people, the depth of her understanding, and her original insights into the complexities of child and adolescent psychotherapy.
Here a selection of her work, edited by Kate Stratton and Simon Cregeen, is brought together in a collection which focuses mainly on clinical issues and concerns: the dynamics of the interaction between patient and therapist in the consulting room; the task of assessment; the particular needs of children and young people whose early development has been distorted by trauma, loss or neglect; and the framework and skills required for effective psychoanalytic work with parents. Illustrated by vivid narratives detailing the strains and possibilities of the therapeutic encounter, this book is a record of clinical work and thinking over 50 years of psychoanalytic practice.
It will prove essential reading for psychoanalysts and child analysts, child psychotherapists, all those training as mental health professionals in work with children and parents, and anyone with an interest in deepening their understanding of the emotional lives of children and young people.
'This long overdue volume of Margaret Rustin's papers radiates her legendary clarity of mind and thought. As has been the case for a very long time, Margaret is the "go to" person for an opinion or consultation; this book allows us to "find our way", in perpetuity, to her wise counsel.'
Ricky Emanuel, child, adolescent and adult psychotherapist, London
'Margaret Rustin's enquiring mind and her emotional receptivity are in constant dialogue in her endeavour to find a way to the child. Thanks to her unique capacity to connect the dimensions of her patients' external reality and their internal objects, and her organic integration of clinical experience and psychoanalytic theory, this book is a precious guide for practitioners, teachers and future generations of child psychotherapists.'
Suzanne Maiello, child, adolescent and adult psychotherapist, Rome
'This is a marvellous book. It is also a book of critical importance at a time when children's emotional health is a growing concern in this confusing and rapidly changing world. Margaret Rustin is a gifted writer and an unusually gifted psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Finding a Way to the Child is a compelling description of her work with children and adolescents over many years at the Tavistock Clinic. Rustin's vivid and detailed examples of trying to understand in depth the experience of each of her young patients and of finding ways, based on her exploration of psychoanalytic technique, of communicating that understanding in the most helpful way, includes also her examination of the doubts, distress and confusion that she needs to contain. The author understands that life is often difficult for babies and young children, even those raised in the most favourable conditions. Many of the children she sees have some difficulty in their background: illness or death in the family, loss of their national home, racial problems, extreme financial problems, adoption or being taken into care, etc. Some may have no obvious cause of their distress. The second half of the book, about assessment for treatment, deals with how decisions are made about which children will get treatment in this environment of limited resources. Rustin describes the great care that must be taken over these sometimes agonizing decisions, so that even when further treatment can't be offered, the child, and often the parents, can find the assessment process therapeutic in itself. Rustin's rich, detailed and clear presentations of her life's work will be of immense interest and help to colleagues in her own and related fields, experienced professionals and beginners alike; and, indeed, to anyone interested in children's emotional lives.'
Priscilla Roth, British Psychoanalytical Society, London