IPT Book Reviews

Title: Child Abuse, Psychotherapy, and the Law  Negative Review
Author: Roger Kennedy
Publisher: Free Association Books, 1998

Free Association Books
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1091
$55.00 (c); $22.50 (p)

Roger Kennedy, a therapist at Cassel Hospital in London, describes Cassel Hospital's approach to parents who are on probation after having been found guilty of child abuse. Whole families are admitted on an inpatient basis and parents are encouraged to participate in treatment planning. The approach is basically psychoanalytic in both treatment and diagnosis.

The author describes working with these families as a complex, difficult and often confusing task. He believes that the medical staff's conflicts with courts and social workers come from the hospital's emphasis on rehabilitation as opposed to punishment, and he notes that three assessment questions must be answered: (1) What is meant by good-enough parenting and how is parental capacity assessed? (2) When are children safe with their parents and when is it best to remove them? and (3) When should a problem family be given the chance to stay together, and when should treatment be abandoned?

Although the author attempts to answer these questions, most of the book consists of clinical examples with little empirical support for its assertions. Although he decries the hostility towards rehabilitation that the medical staff encounters from social workers, the author's final recommendations are unrealistic and superficial. The book is not recommended.

Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, Emeritus Professor, West Virginia University.

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