Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

The Tin Soldier and the Ballerina: Therapeutic Work and Developmental Disabilities

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

The Tin Soldier and the Ballerina: Therapeutic Work and Developmental Disabilities

Article excerpt

A therapist who works with people who are developmentally disabled or who suffer from a chronic illness must deal with the fact that these people are to some degree limited physically or mentally and that they often have an unusual appearance and a different way of communicating. The therapist must also be aware of the fact that, despite the help and extensive therapy they receive, these patients will always be handicapped. This reality is threatening and could cause the therapist to experience extreme feelings of identification and rejection.

The therapist's journey into the patient's life involves getting to know someone who is different and includes highly charged processes of transference and counter-transference, which can shake the therapist's emotional equilibrium. At the outset of the therapeutic process, the therapist is both anxious and hopeful. The initial positive feelings that arise include the desire to help, and the excitement and curiosity over the interesting work involved. After this, the journey becomes fraught with mixed feelings and rejection. In time, these can be replaced by feelings of closeness and identification. As the process continues, the therapist reaches the painful recognition of the reality. …

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