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A crisis mental health intervention service: an innovative model for working intensively with young people on the edge of care

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This paper describes the setting up and the first year of running of an innovative outreach service for adolescents on the edge of care that aimed at redressing family breakdown and preventing placements in the care system. It was a collaborative endeavour between social services and a child and adolescent mental health provision to facilitate the engagement of hard to reach young people and families that often presented high levels of risk. This article describes a distinctive model of applied psychoanalytic work with individuals, families and the networks of practitioners and agencies around the case. It focuses on the integration of two perspectives: the individual and the family on the one hand and the organisation on the other. Case examples illustrate how our psychoanalytic and developmental framework illuminated our understanding of frequently extreme acting out behaviour and parental difficulties in terms of underlying intergenerational trauma, which was often re-enacted. This framework also helped in understanding the difficulties that practitioners experienced and how these related to individual and family dynamics. The article describes the significance of containment in the treatment of adolescents and families in crisis as well as in supporting the professional network.
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Keywords: adolescence crisis; containment; family crisis; intergenerational trauma; network; outreach intervention

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: East Finchley Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Practice, 2–3 Bedford Mews, Bedford RoadLondon,N2 9DF, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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