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Reflective Network Therapy - a brief introduction how it works

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Reflective Network Therapy - a brief introduction how it works

  1. 1. A brief overview of Reflective Network Therapy how it works
  2. 2. Reflective Network Therapy The method regularly produces rapid gains for seriously disturbed, developmentally delayed and traumatized children. Improvements include positive behavioral changes, improved relational skills, and subsequently expanded learning capacity, including rises in IQ. Reflective Network Therapy s a deliberately synergistic combination of preschool education with in-classroom psychological treatment for emotionally and developmentally disordered young children. Its techniques include: individualized psychodynamic psychotherapy sessions for each child right in the classroom briefings before each therapy session and debriefings after each therapy session, shared with the child parent involvement and parent guidance Everything takes place within an early childhood educational process and classroom group. A psychodynamically trained therapist intensely focuses on and attunes to each child in turn, for about a quarter an hour at a time. During that attunement, the therapist tactfully verbalizes reflections about the child’s feelings, and behavior, especially the therapist’s thoughts about what the child is doing and thinking in the here and now of the classroom. Children’s resistances to education, refusal of affection, and inhibited or inappropriate socialization are interpreted on the spot, to the full extent the psychotherapist finds useful.
  3. 3. The network on which the method depends is comprised of a classroom team of parents, child pupils who are patients, their classroom teachers and a classroom therapist. This interactive network is dynamically engaged with each child, one at a time in the classroom, every day the class meets. A psychodynamically trained therapist intensely focuses on and attunes to each child in turn, for about a quarter an hour at a time. During that attunement, the therapist tactfully verbalizes reflections about the child’s feelings, and behavior, especially the therapist’s thoughts about what the child is doing and thinking in the here and now of the classroom. Children’s resistances to education, refusal of affection, and inhibited or inappropriate socialization are interpreted on the spot, to the full extent the psychotherapist finds useful. Each child hears directly from the network of helping adults what they think and understand about what is happening in her or his behavior and play. The child is encouraged to participate in these conversations which are structured around the natural events of the classroom in specific ways, including joint adult-child briefings and debriefings on a daily basis. Inter-subjective reflections organize and semantically encode each participant’s theory of the child's own mind and to some extent of the minds of all the others in the classroom. The child’s classroom peers are a part of this network. The Reflective Network Therapy method differs from other interpersonal psychotherapies and educational approaches. Everything happens in the real life space of the classroom, and takes advantage of what comes up between and among the children both as educational and therapeutic opportunities for growth.
  4. 4. In other methods, children are treated psychodynamically and individually but in no other method does the treatment take place exclusively within the learning and play activities of their special education classroom groups. The children served are two to seven years old, in classrooms with small populations. Six to twelve children work best, usually with two teachers and a therapist for each six or eight children. The adults include one head teacher and one teacher’s aide as well as one therapist. Parents are often in the classroom and are welcome for however long the parent’s presence promotes the child’s use of the process. One on one behavioral aides are not used. However, a child’s existing aide is welcome to come at the beginning of a child’s treatment. Behavioral aides are rarely required after a few days. Each child is a pupil as well as a diagnosed patient, treated with parental permission and with the cooperation of his public or private school or day care center. Each child has a psychotherapy session every day of school, usually at least three times a week, right in the classroom, for 15-20 minutes. These short but frequent sessions go on within the classroom in the midst of classroom educational activities of all kinds. Psychotherapy sessions are witnessed, shared and inwardly or outwardly reflected on by everyone in the classroom, right in the real life space of the classroom using the material and behavior which arises naturally in this setting.
  5. 5. Before a child’s therapy session, the teacher and child brief the therapist about what the child and family have been doing. The child is encouraged to be an active participant. Parents also participate when they are present. They might mention new events in the child’s life and any current behaviors or immediate expressions that the child may have just made. The adults might comment on an interaction just observed between the child and other children in the class. All such comments are made in the child’s presence. After the 15-20 minutes of individual therapy, the child and therapist close the session by a debriefing, telling the teacher together about the contents of the session. If other children show interest, they can participate in all aspects of an index child's session, provided they allow that child to lead the play and talk. Parents are especially encouraged to be in the classroom during the early weeks of a child’s treatment. Parents regularly receive a 45 minute guidance session in private with the head or assistant teacher each week. This guidance conference includes the opportunity to give and get feedback about the child’s current behaviors and preoccupations. Parents also benefit greatly from the support of at least one monthly guidance session with the therapist. The teachers and therapist meet as a group, usually for 90 minutes each week, often viewing a recent videotape of their work, and always sharing the teachers' many hours of classroom behavioral observation. The teachers greatly amplify the knowledge the therapist gains in the daily therapy sessions.
  6. 6. Teachers expand the psychotherapist’s horizons: The constant daily briefings before in-classroom individual therapy sessions immediately augment the therapist’s access to important themes and behaviors based on the teachers’ observations. The content of therapy sessions is highly individual: It varies as greatly as the individual children vary. Sessions may include a full range of psychoanalytically useful material such as talk, play, fantasies, dreams, interpersonal dramas, art work, interpretations and responses. Reflective Network Therapy is an interdisciplinary team method which literally sets up a therapeutic reflective network in the real life space of the therapeutic classroom.
  7. 7. Teachers expand the psychotherapist’s horizons: The constant daily briefings before in-classroom individual therapy sessions immediately augment the therapist’s access to important themes and behaviors based on the teachers’ observations. The content of therapy sessions is highly individual: It varies as greatly as the individual children vary. Sessions may include a full range of psychoanalytically useful material such as talk, play, fantasies, dreams, interpersonal dramas, art work, interpretations and responses. Reflective Network Therapy is an interdisciplinary team method which literally sets up a therapeutic reflective network in the real life space of the therapeutic classroom.

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