Family Therapy as an Alternative to Medication: An Appraisal of Pharmland

By Phoebe S. Prosky; David V. Keith | Go to book overview

Chapter 18

My Journey with Allison in Wonderland

John M. Benda, LCSW

And here I wish I could tell you half the things Alice used to say, beginning with her favorite phrase, “Let's pretend.” She had had quite a long argument with her sister only the day beforeall because Alice had begun with “Let's pretend we're kings and queens;” and her sister, who liked being very exact, had argued that they couldn't, because there were only two of them, and Alice had been reduced at last to say, “Well, you can be one of them, then, and I'll be all the rest.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

This essay presents a personal and professional reflection about the author's one year therapeutic relationship with Allison, a 6-year-old girl diagnosed with autism. It is personal in that it is written from the therapist's emotional experience of the therapeutic relationship. It is professional as a case study of how a therapist-child relationship may evolve. It reveals how both child and therapist can be changed by their relationship. The author assumes a systemic, symbolic, attachment-focused, and corrective emotional experience approach to therapy. Allison was complex, relationally intense, and had a special affective presence. The author was aware while working with her that contemporary modern psychiatry trends toward asystemic, disembodied, and biochemical approaches to mental health care would fail and hinder the felt depth of the relationship. The author also presupposes with-

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