The Presence of the Therapist: Treating Childhood Trauma

By Monica Lanyado | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 2

Beyond words: the quiet presence of the therapist 1

Feelings of terror, fear and helplessness in response to trauma are profoundly human responses to events that are experienced as life-threatening to the self and others. Alongside these emotions, there are bodily responses such as trembling, a pounding heart, an inability to speak or move and a difficulty in breathing, all of which dramatically indicate the indivisible link between feelings, body and mind. During more normal life experiences it is easy as a psychotherapist to forget about the body. The treatment of trauma will not allow this to happen.

My interest in the technical difficulties of treating traumatised children started with the two children with whom this chapter is concerned. At the time that the original paper was written in the mid-1980s, there was surprisingly little psychoanalytic literature about the treatment of trauma in children. The extent of physical, sexual and emotional abuse that we are now so well aware of was not known at that time. Clinically, I think it is probably fair to say that the emphasis was mainly on the child's internal world first and foremost, and that this led to a technical emphasis on the centrality of interpretation in bringing about psychic change.

Lesley and Derek were therefore very unusual patients at the time. Lesley, who was 9, was referred to me very soon after being raped. She had lived an entirely ordinary life until this point. Derek was referred to me many years after probably witnessing the murder of his mother by her partner, who was subsequently imprisoned. It happened that I was seeing both children at roughly the same time, which was what made the

1 Many of the ideas as well as the clinical examples in this chapter were originally published in 1985 as 'Surviving trauma-dilemmas in the psychotherapy of traumatised children', British Journal of Psychotherapy, 2(1):50-62. The observation of the therapeutic value of a particular form of quietness in the therapist has been helpful to me since this time. My current thinking and understanding of why this is so have led to the expansion of the original paper into this chapter.

-15-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Presence of the Therapist: Treating Childhood Trauma
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 145

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?