IPT Book Reviews

Title: Trust and Betrayal in the Treatment of Child Abuse  Positive Review
Author: Laurie K. MacKinnon
Publisher: The Guilford Press, 1998

The Guilford Press
72 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
(800) 365-7006
$27.99 (c)

This 260-page book by an Australian therapist is based upon her experiences in working with families who are involved with child protection. The focus is on developing an effective therapeutic relationship with clients in these very difficult cases.

The book begins with a discussion as to why child protection cases are so hard and how therapists are at risk to buy into their clients' pathology and resistance to child protection. The author sees the therapist's role as that of a power broker between child protection and the family. She describes the differences between families who are self-referred and those who are referred by child protection, and the additional difficulties with a "welfare" family. She next addresses the dynamics and values of working class families, their beliefs about family control and the use of punishment, and how these may differ from middle-class families.

Following this, the author describes her method of earning the parents' trust in therapy, and emphasizes the necessity of not unfairly aligning with child protection. She also covers the importance of intervening with child protection when necessary. The last chapters address creating and maintaining family motivation for therapy, getting the parents' description of the abuse event, and developing healthy and useful family discourse. The book concludes with a brief description of the research project upon which the book is based.

Case histories are presented throughout and practical suggestions are given, such as instructions on how to prepare the family for an apology meeting with the victim. The author notes that child protective workers seldom know how to effectively work with men and fathers and that the concept of "helping" in itself can create problems. She disputes the pathology theory held by many professionals and, throughout, treats parents with dignity and seriousness.

This book is recommended for therapists who work with this population as well as for child protective workers.

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

Order this book: Hardcover

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