The contribution of child psychotherapists within a specialist CAMHS and autism assessment service

Kuzubasoglu, Melisa (2021) The contribution of child psychotherapists within a specialist CAMHS and autism assessment service. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust/University of Essex.

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Abstract

Objective: This qualitative research is the first exploration of what psychotherapists have to offer children under 5 and their families where the child has or is identified at-risk of an autism diagnosis. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six psychotherapists working within a specialist CAMHS and autism assessment service. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and the transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: The qualitative analysis of these narrative accounts generated 4 themes containing a total of 11 subthemes. The four themes were: temporal aspects of child psychotherapy interventions, elements of child psychotherapy interventions that promote understanding, distinctive aspects of understanding informed by unconscious processes and managing uncertainty. Conclusions: Child psychotherapists significantly contribute to the assessment and treatment of children under 5 with or at-risk of an autism diagnosis. The presence of the child psychotherapy profession was shown to have an impact both within the clinical context and through enriching the formulations within the multi-disciplinary team. The results indicate that child psychotherapy uniquely provides an understanding of unconscious processes which is highly valuable when working within a specialist autism service.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Essex for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Full text available for download on 1 April 2026.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Early Intervention, At-risk
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Child Psychotherapy
Communication (incl. disorders of) > Autism
Research, Tests, Assessments > Psychotherapy Research
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Research
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2445

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