The theory courses and clinical practicum which comprise the curriculum of the Working with Children & Adolescents: Relational Psychoanalytic Approaches program provide a solid understanding of child development (infant, child, & adolescent) and treatment from the perspective of relational psychoanalytic theories, brain development, attachment theory, trauma theory, and contemporary infant research studies.

Theory Class Sequence

Child Development I: Infancy Through Age Toddlerhood. This course will provide a solid foundation in early childhood development. Readings will offer the clinician the ability to apply and integrate key concepts from a wide range of relational theories of development: object relations, self-psychology, attachment theory and interpersonal psychoanalysis. Selections from contemporary infant research, dyadic systems studies, affect regulation theory, trauma theory and brain development will be utilized to gain a detailed understanding of the developing infant and child.

Child Development II: School-Aged Children Through to Emerging Adulthood. Candidates will gain an understanding of the physiological, psychological and interpersonal transformations which mark the development of the child from early school age through adolescence to emerging adulthood. Readings are designed to provide a conceptual framework with which to understand the child's emergence into the wider interpersonal world of peer relationships, burgeoning sexuality and the school setting.

Child Development III: Psychopathology and Atypical Neurology. The focus of this course is on the diverse categories of psychopathology encountered by the clinician working with infants, children and adolescents. Candidates will enhance their assessment and treatment planning capacities through an in depth understanding of relational psychoanalytic, attachment theory, trauma theory and DSM perspectives on diagnosis. In addition we will examine neural cognitive disorders including pervasive developmental delay, non-verbal learning disabilities, attention deficit-hyperactive disorder, and sensory integration disorders.

Clinical Practicum Sequence

Clinical Practicum I. Candidates will gain the clinical skills required to meet the challenges of the initial phase of treatment including how to engage children, adolescents and their parents in a therapeutic process; establishing a treatment framework; forming collaborative relationships with other professionals and handling matters of confidentiality. Candidates will also develop the knowledge foundation in relational psychodynamic assessment and treatment planning that will allow them to formulate interventions targeting their client's specific needs.

Clinical Practicum II. This course will provide the skills required to conduct ongoing treatments with infants, children and adolescents. Candidates will learn how to conduct infant-mother dyadic therapy, play therapy with younger children, and talk-oriented therapy with adolescents. Candidates will gain an understanding of the fundamentals of the relational psychoanalytic perspective on treatment including the use of transference and countertransference, overcoming resistance in children and adolescents, the nature of therapeutic action, resolving impasses in treatment and the specialized use of interpretation with children and adolescents. Finally, targeted interventions drawing on problem- solving, cognitive and behavior therapies will be integrated into the clinician's set of skills.

Clinical Practicum III. The focus of this course is on skillful clinical interventions at the systemic levels of dyad, family and community. Candidates will learn how to intervene effectively within the parent-infant dyad through the use of videotaping and feedback sessions. Participants will learn key theoretical models of family-systems therapy and how to integrate these models when including families in the treatment. Candidates will develop the capacity to intervene in the various contexts in which school-aged children and adolescents are situated, especially the school setting and in peer groups. Special attention will be paid to the ways in which socio-cultural factors influence both client and clinician. We will further consider the need for referring to and collaborating with auxiliary treatment modalities. Lastly, candidates will increase their clinical knowledge of the issues and tasks of the termination phase.