In the attached article "Where the Twain Shall Meet" by Erika Schmidt - page 2, the third paragraph on the left side starting with "From the start, child analysts attempting to define . . ." - would someone tell me if they agree with the author?
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Schmidt notes how social work theory is beneficial to the work in child psychoanalysis. She states that the social work theorist/practitioner focuses on social justice and the “person-in-environment,” stressing the interaction between a person and his/her environment. Thus, social work theory can and should deal with the person and the social world; psychology and sociology. Schmidt argues that social work has become more broad than psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is too rigid with its “parameters” and the professional need to conform to traditional standards. Social work, she argues, is much more open to different techniques and invention.
Schmidt argues that social work is at its best when the therapist/social worker uses techniques that go beyond traditional standards of psychoanalysis. She cites a case study where a child was allowed to roam freely from the social worker's room to an outer room where the child's mother waited. This helped the child deal with separation anxiety. Schmidt notes that, for a child, parents are a huge part of the environment. Schmidt argues that incorporating the child's environment (his mother) with his internal therapy, something that goes beyond traditional psychoanalytic technique, is a beneficial technique:
Integrating these ideas into models of psychoanalytic intervention and technique has been a struggle against the pull of history and tradition and exclusionary definitions of what constitutes psychoanalysis proper.
Therefore, it does seem logical and useful for the social worker to incorporate techniques that stray from the rigid traditions of psychoanalysis. It would likewise be beneficial for psychoanalysis to incorporate more experimental techniques, especially, from this context, in dealing with children. In Schmidt's case study, involving the child's mother in therapy sessions provided more complete insight into the child's internal-external dynamic. Had the child been isolated from the parent, the therapist may not have gained the complete understanding of the child's psychological-social interactions which led to his troublesome behavior. There is something to be said for traditional psychoanalytic techniques of only seeing the external world through the eyes/mind of the patient, but supplementing that view with a real view of the patient's environment (the child's mother) helped in this case.
Broadening this idea of environmental therapy to the idea of community therapy addresses more social aspects of life and bridges to another element that can improve the social and psychological lives of individuals: social justice.
Schmidt makes a completely logical argument that the “twain” (child psychoanalysis and clinical social work) could and/or should be combined since each can supplement each in determining the motivations and behaviors of a child, in terms of examining both the child's internal and external worlds. Schmidt also makes a convincing argument that this flexibility of technique(s) can also be used in family, group, and even community therapy since community analysis is a part of sociological study. Therefore, social justice can be examined in this framework as well.
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