Clinical Social Work Journal

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 56–66 | Cite as

Social Work and Child Psychoanalysis: Where the Twain Shall Meet

  • Erika S. Schmidt
Original Paper


This essay explores the ways in which social work theory can contribute to the theory and practice of child psychoanalysis. Both clinical social work and child psychoanalysis borrow from psychoanalytic theory for explanations of motivation, development, and technique. The fundamental premises of social work theory, including a psychosocial perspective, the centrality of relationship as a medium of change, a commitment to social justice, and the importance of “starting where the person is,” inform the therapist’s stance and open the therapeutic space to include a wide range of ways of using the therapeutic relationship and the therapeutic experience. Integrating these principles into clinical practice theory offers a way to understand this range of ways of using therapeutic experience. Highlights of some of the practice literature are surveyed. Two case examples illustrate the value of social work theory in understanding therapeutic process.


Child psychoanalysis and social work Practice theory Development Child psychotherapy 



Thanks to Michelle Sweet, Ph.D., for sharing this clinical material and for her creative clinical work with Ellen.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ChicagoUSA

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