Child Therapy in the Great Outdoors: A Relational View
Building on developmental research that attests to the role of embodied, nonverbal language in the meanings children impute to their experiences, Sebastiano Santostefano offers this compelling demonstration of effective child therapy conducted in the great outdoors. Specifically, he argues that, for the child, traumatic life-metaphors should be resolved at the embodied rather than verbal level. To this end, child and therapist must take advantage of all the indoor and outdoor environments available to them. As they take therapy to nontraditional places, relying on the nonverbal vocabulary they have constructed together, they move toward enacted solutions to relational crises, solutions that revise the child's sense of self and ability to form new and productive relationships. Santostefano contrasts his therapeutic use of the great outdoors, which is informed by relational psychoanalytic thinking, with the approaches of environmental psychology and ecopsychotherapy and offers two full-length case histories of traumatized children that exemplify his relational use of an outdoor environment.
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