How even the most deprived and traumatised children can be helped: Gianna Polacco Williams interview

Williams, Gianna Polacco and O'Rourke, Jane (2020) How even the most deprived and traumatised children can be helped: Gianna Polacco Williams interview. [Film/Video]

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Gianna Polacco Williams on her life's work as a child psychotherapist and the key theories and ideas she has developed - Double Deprivation and No Entry Defences are discussed here and the application of psychoanalytic work in non-clinical contexts. Gianna is a Consultant Child Psychotherapist and Psychoanalyst and is one of the most respected and incisive clinicians in child mental health today. Her paper ‘Doubly Deprived’ (Henry, 1974), written as Gianna Henry, broke new ground. It became an instant classic and is still one of the most quoted papers in child psychotherapy. The significance of this paper cannot be underestimated. It sparked research into psychotherapy with traumatised children, leading to publication of ‘Psychotherapy with severely deprived children’, edited by Mary Boston and Rolene Szur. Before it was published there was a widely held belief that severely deprived children could not be helped with psychotherapy. The concept of Double Deprivation suggests that the first deprivation is that which has been caused by a child’s external circumstances which cannot be changed. The second deprivation is due to a child’s internal defences which have developed in the avoidance of psychic pain and the nature of the child’s internal objects, which with treatment can be modified and so is changeable. In this interview she talks about Martin, the 14 years old patient who was the source of her ideas, and why the concepts she wrote about then are as relevant today. She also discusses in depth one of her other key theoretical ideas, the ‘No Entry’ defence, an illuminating concept in understanding the development of some eating disorders.

Item Type: Film/Video
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Child Psychotherapy
Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adolescents - Psychotherapy
Media Appearances > Film/Video
Department/People: Honorary Staff

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