1st Edition

Therapeutic Approaches with Babies and Young Children in Care Observation and Attention

By Jenifer Wakelyn Copyright 2019
    158 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    158 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Therapeutic Approaches for Babies and Young Children in Care: Observation and Attention is about the value of observation and close attention for babies and young children who may be vulnerable to psychological and attachment difficulties. Case studies explore the potential for observation-based therapeutic approaches to support caregivers, social workers, and professional networks. A third theme in the book is the roots of observation-based approaches in psychoanalytic infant observation and the contribution of these ways of working to professional training and continuing development.

    Using case examples, Jenifer Wakelyn illustrates observational ways of working that can be practised by professionals and family members to help children express themselves and feel understood. The interventions focus on the early stages of life in care and on the "golden thread" of relationships with caregivers. The book explores contemporary neuroscience and child development research alongside psychoanalytic theory to explore the role of attention in helping children to develop the internal continuity that sustains the personality and protects against the fragmenting impact of trauma. 

    Therapeutic Approaches for Babies and Young Children in Care is written for social workers, teachers, medical staff, and other professionals whose work brings them in contact with the youngest children in care; it will also be relevant for commissioners, managers, and trainers as well as mental health clinicians who are starting to work with children in care. It will provide a valuable insight into the lives of infants and young children in the care system and the applications of psychoanalytic infant observation.

    Series Editors’ Preface

    Foreword by Dilys Daws


    Chapter 1: Being seen

    Chapter 2: Therapeutic observation

    Chapter 3: Clinical research: therapeutic observation with an infant in foster care

    Chapter 4: Learning from the research

    Chapter 5: Therapeutic observation in clinical practice

    Chapter 6: Briefer interventions: Watch Me Play!

    Chapter 7: Practice considerations for the Watch Me Play! approach


    Suggested further reading and resources



    Jenifer Wakelyn is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. She teaches and supervises in the clinical training in child psychotherapy at the Tavistock Centre and has given presentations across the UK and in France, Italy, Norway, and the Ukraine about her research on therapeutic interventions with babies and young children at risk.

    "The experience of reading this book will be therapeutic for many professionals who may feel daunted and overwhelmed by trying to help children whose lives have been severely disrupted and who have lost trust that they will ever be genuinely ‘seen’."–from the Foreword by Dilys Daws, Honorary Consultant Child Psychotherapist, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust; founder member, Association of Infant Mental Health, UK; co-author of Finding Your Way with Your Baby: The Emotional Life of Parents and Babies (Routledge)

    "In this profoundly important book, Jenifer Wakelyn and her colleagues sensitively and skilfully offer acute insights into the lived experiences of babies and young children in care and their caregivers. The book conveys deeply empathic, compassionate and hopeful understandings of trauma and what is needed to recover from it. In so doing it makes a vital contribution to practitioners’ abilities to access, and better understand, the internal worlds of the children and families they work with and provides invaluable guidance to support them in developing and delivering attentive and attuned professional engagement."–Gillian Ruch, Professor of Social Work, University of Sussex, UK and Co-editor, Journal of Social Work Practice


    "Wakelyn’s impressive book is dedicated to showing how transitions and change impact powerfully on babies and young children in care, both at the time and potentially for their future development…

    The achievement of Wakelyn’s book is in its focus on the baby and young child and to help others to achieve such a focus… The examples given show how even the briefest of interventions can help young children under stress, and how flexible the method can be in a range of situations including assessments." - Jenny Kenrick, former Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Centre, writing in the journal Infant Observation.