The Ward and the Womb: An Integrated Therapeutic Approach for Treatment Resistant Adolescents

Naama Gershy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In mental health settings, we often meet traumatized and volatile youth who resist treatment and do not respond to engagement attempts. For such patients, the treatment refusal may be a representation of their level of personality organization; it can represent difficulties to relate to others, to regulate affective experiences, and to integrate different self-states. Using a case study of a treatment resistant adolescent in residential care, I discuss the limitations of engagement techniques with patients at the lower end of personality organization and argue that engaging “difficult to treat” adolescents requires a clinical shift from the therapeutic encounter to the development of a system-based “holding” environment. I present a modified intervention model that integrates psychodynamic formulation of personality development with process-oriented systemic work. The model described emphasizes the role of the therapist as the initiator and facilitator, helping to construct a coherent and attuned environment within the residential care system. Through case vignettes, I provide examples for the clinical shift from the therapeutic encounter to the environment of the ward and demonstrate how developing a holding environment can overcome engagement barriers and support the development of the patient’s ego capacities, sense of self, and object relations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)265-278
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 JICAP Foundation, Inc.

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