Lessons from the nursery

I learnt early in my career as a cognitive behavioural therapist that regardless of technique, unless a relationship exists between person and therapist, therapy is likely to stall. No wonder then that I learn so much from books on attachment. This is probably the most readable of the books that I have read in this area – a real delight:
Music, G. 2017, Nurturing natures: attachment and children’s emotional, sociocultural and brain development, Second edn, Routledge, London
A book packed with learning, it doesn’t come close to the learning from experience in looking after children As a grandparent who. week in week out. looks after grandchildren it provides powerful reminders of how valuable the role of caregiver is (and how lonely it sometimes gets).
Every week I get first hand how children learn about emotions and how to express them in a healthy way. Caregivers need the strength and sensitivity to absorb strong emotion, contain them, and so hand them back in a moderated form. Wilfred Bion first described the process of holding on to difficult emotions and this has been described in later books (ie Rahm, in Hart 2017*) on the benefits of holding on to the “dangerous projects” of babies.
The loneliness comes on the back of self criticisms when we doubt whether we are good enough parents and grandparents or carers (Loughran, 2017). It is also on the back of breaks in contact as defensive reflection-in-action sets in. Here the child is faced with a (professional) parent whose reflections turn into rumination. All fascinating stuff.

*Hart, S.(. 2017;;, Inclusion, play and empathy: neuroaffective development in children’s groups, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.

Loughran, C. 2017, “Transformative Holding: A Reflection on the Legacy of the Smith School for Social Work Thesis”, Smith College Studies in Social Work, vol. 87, no. 4, pp. 361
Other things catching my attention:

Professor Karen Harmer makes a plea, on this podcast, for a holistic approach to treating mental health illness. Identifying that medication, exercise and psychological therapies may have overlapping effects:

Podcast regarding research into psychological therapies for suicidal behaviour delivered by Professor Rory O’Connor: