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Child Therapy Techniques - The Center for Practical Tools for Child and Adolescent Therapists

Dr. David A. Crenshaw, Director  

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Dr. Crenshaw is the proud recipient of The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hudson Valley Psychological Association.

Dr. Crenshaw is co-editing a series of books for Guilford.  Please click here for his Guilford books and ordering information.

 Rosie, first NY trial dog and what you can do to support Rosie's Law

"Heartfelt Feelings" Coloring Cards

Certified translations in 8 languages

Find out about Dr. Crenshaw and his books at Amazon Author Page

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Dr. Crenshaw's latest books

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Dr. Crenshaw's book Bereavement: Counseling the Grieving throughout the Life Cycle is so successful that it is now in its third printing and earned an average customer rating of 4.0 out of 5 starsfrom Amazon.com      

Read Dr. Crenshaw's articles in Play Therapy magazine by clicking on title: "Should I Be Worried?"  "Selective Mutism" "Preverbal Trauma" "No Time or Place for Child's Play" "Sounds of Silence" "Symbolism of Windows and Doors in Play Therapy" "The Wonder of It All" "Rosie Goes to Court"  "Secrets Told to Ivy"  with permission of Play Therapy Magazine.  

Two New Poetry Books By David A. Crenshaw (click on titles for details)       The Vision of the Heart  and A Place of Healing and Hope

Books below are available in paperback at 20% discount. To order click on the book images below or simply call 1-800-462-6420.  Code # 4W9CAPBK.  If you want to read reviews first, click on book title under the book image.

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy: Wounded Spirits and Healing Paths,

Therapeutic Engagement of Children and Adolescents

Understanding and Treating the Aggression of Children: Fawns in Gorilla Suits

Understanding and Treating Aggressive Children: Fawns in Gorilla Suits

Handbook of Play Therapy with Aggressive Children

 

Evocative Strategies in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

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Dr. Crenshaw's Publications
DVD on Grief
CHILD THERAPY TECHNIQUES:
...Heart Symbol Strategies
...Heartfelt Feelings Coloring Card Kit
...Party Hats on Monsters
...Anger Modulation Drawings
...The Ship Prepares for Voyage
...The Magic Key
...The Fair Trial
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...Falling Leaves
...Holiday Writing Exercises
...Three Doors
Articles for Parents and Teachers
Article: Empathic Healer
Article: The Fawns beneath the Gorilla Suits
Article: The Hidden Dimensions
Article: Sounds of Children's Silence
Article: Windows to the Child’s Soul
Article: Selective Mutism
Article: Sealing off the Fountain
Article: by Liana Lowenstein, MSW
Article: Rosie the Golden Retriever
Poetry... Musings of the Soul
...Multicultural Language of Healing a Child
...Poetry Book-The Vision of the Heart
...Poetry Book-A Place of Healing and Hope
Tribute to Survivors of Domestic Violence
"My Wish for Children"
YouTube Videos
About Dr. Crenshaw
Translations
 

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David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP 205 Dogwood Court Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Phone:  (845) 489-8661

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Copyright © 2004-2015 by David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP. All rights reserved.

"Sealing off the Fountain"

by David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP, RPT-S  

     One of the most poignant metaphors for understanding extremely aggressive children comes not from the field of psychology but from literature. C.S. Lewis in his book, The Four Loves (1965) uses this metaphor in an entirely different context but I find succinctly captures the heart of the pain of many aggressive children. Lewis states, “they seal off the very fountain from which they thirst to drink” (p.65). How sad, how true this is for children who adopt the strategy of keeping others at a distance by their aggressive behavior, thereby protecting from further hurt but “sealing off the very fountain from which they thirst to drink.” They ensure their isolation, their disconnection, thus depriving themselves of what makes life endurable—meaningful closeness with others. James Garbarino (1999) in the Lost Boys observes that so often we do not get close enough to notice the “traumatized child within.” Bruce Perry (2006) observes in his  book, The Boy Who was Raised as Dog, that “by conservative estimates, about 40 percent of American children will have at least one potentially traumatizing experience by age eighteen: this includes the death of a parent or a sibling, ongoing physical abuse and/or neglect, sexual abuse, or the experience of a serious accident, natural disaster or domestic violence or other violent crime” (pp. 2-3).  Kenneth Hardy and Tracy Laszloffy (2005) in Teens Who Hurt discuss the “invisible wounds” and profound losses aggressive and sometimes violent teens suffer. While violence is never a solution, we must appreciate the complex dimensions to these problems if we wish to address adequately the issue of youth aggression.

     Sometimes we don’t see the “traumatized child within”, “the invisible wounds” or the “fawn in the gorilla suit” because we become inducted as parents, teachers, and therapists in the overly punitive climate that permeates our culture. The German poet and philosopher Goethe once said, “We see in the world, what we carry in our heart.” How is it that we don’t notice the inner pain that drives the acting-out behavior of our children? The notion that more punitive approaches, harsher punishment, and longer periods of incarceration will resolve the problem of youth violence ignores the reality pointed out by Anna Freud more than 60 years ago that these approaches are hardly novel. When these children are already broken down in spirit does it make sense to subject them to even harsher and more punitive correctional methods? As Kenneth V. Hardy, Director of the Eikenberg Institute for Relationships in New York City, has stated, “Children need less correction, and more connection. They need less confrontation, and more validation.” Raffi Cavoukian (Cavoukian & Olfman, 2006) writes, “Children who feel seen, loved, and honored are far more able to become loving parents and productive citizens. Children who do not feel valued are disproportionately represented on welfare roles and police records. Much of the criminal justice system deals with the results of childhood wounding (the vast majority of sexual offenders, for example, were themselves violated as children), and much of the social service sector represents an attempt to rectify or moderate this damage, which comes at an enormous cost to society. Most of the correctional work is too little, too late” (pp. xi-xx).  

     One of the most effective ways to validate children is to recognize and honor what they have to give, to highlight their strengths and talents, to find in them what Robert Brooks describes as “islands of competence” and to build on them. In support of Hardy’s and Brook’s views, sociologist Roger Curry (2004) in his book The Road to Whatever, reported on his interviews with today’s youth. He discovered that a crucial turning point in the lives of these young people was learning or relearning how to care about themselves—to view themselves as people who mattered.  Clearly, these turning points are facilitated when “charismatic adults” (a term coined by the late Dr. Julius Segal) are available to the adolescents (Brooks and Goldstein, 2004).  Brooks and Goldstein explain that a charismatic adult “is an adult from whom a child can gather strength.” In studies of resilience, the presence of at least one charismatic adult is one of the key factors enabling youth to overcome adversity in their lives.  

     While our culture is oriented toward punishment and correctional approaches, the research consistently shows that it is meaningful connections between youth and the key adults in their lives that enable young people to turn their lives around in a positive way. In the absence of healing relationships with committed adults today’s lonely and alienated youth will continue in their desperate attempts to protect from further hurt, to “seal off the very fountain from which they thirst to drink.”

References: 

Brooks, R. and Goldstein, S. (2004). Raising resilient children: Fostering strength, hope, and optimism in your child. New York: McGraw-Hill.

 Cavoukian, R. & Olfman, S. (2006). Child honoring: How to turn this world around. Westport, CT: Praeger. 

Currie, E. (2004). The road to whatever: Middle-Class culture and the crisis of adolescence. New York: Metropolitan Books.

Garbarino, J. (1999). Lost boys: Why our sons turn violent and how we can save them. New York: Anchor Books, A Division of Random House. 

Hardy, K. V., & Laszloffy, T. (2005). Teens who hurt: Clinical interventions to break the cycle of adolescent violence. New York: Guilford Press.

 Lewis, C. S. (1960). The four loves. New York: Harcourt Brace. 

Perry, B. D. (with Szalavitz, M.). (2006). The boy who was raised as a dog and other stories from a child psychiatrist’s notebook: What traumatized children can teach us about loss, love, and healing. New York: Basic Books.

 

Copyright © 2007 by David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP.  All rights reserved.

 

 

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