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Highlights From a Symposium on the Work of Psychoanalytic Schools.

On October 22, 2010—October 24, 2010 I attended a Symposium in Houston, Texas put on by the Alliance for Psychoanalytic Schools.  I thought it might be of interest to summarize highlights from the meeting.

Diane Manning, Ph.D. and Arthur J. Farley, M.D.

Diane Manning, Ph.D. and Arthur J. Farley, M.D.

The New School in the Heights is in Houston, Texas.  Art Farley, M.D., a psychoanalyst, is the Clinical Director of the school and Diane Manning, Ph.D. a psychoanalyst, is the Educational Director. The purpose of the weekend conference was to show those individuals interested in psychoanalytic schools work, how this one works and how children in this setting are helped.

The title of the Symposium was, “It Takes A Clinical Team: Cases from the New School in the Heights.”  This psychoanalytic school serves 33 children at this time.  The children range in age from 5 to 15 years. All of the children come to this setting with 2 to 6 diagnoses, a history of having been to 2 to 6 schools from which they have been asked to leave and many come on 2 to 6 medications.

Once accepted their clinical and education team gets to work.  Very careful assessment goes into taking the children off the medications they do not need and fine-tuning any medications they do need.  Education is individualized, and classroom settings are small.  Sometimes there are four students with a teacher, sometimes six, sometimes eight with two teachers. There is lots of positive re-inforcement and relationships are key in this setting. Dr. Farley knows everyone by name. So does Dr. Manning.  Their psychoanalytic offices are right on the premises.  They can greet children as they come in the door if they happen to be there. People know each other here. The setting is small.  There are three houses in a neighborhood with a large play area, with volleyball net and soccer playing area. Parents drop the children off in the morning and pick them up when the day is through. The school has six teachers.  In addition there is intensive family work with “parent helpers” (helpers of the parents).  This school would like the “parent helpers” to be clinicians who are in training or who have been trained in child psychoanalysis, and they are in the process of trying to facilitate this for their staff. The parent work is coordinated with whatever is happening in the classroom setting.  Everyone tries to be on the same page.  This is accomplished by the director meeting twice/ week with the teachers and parent helpers before school; the educational director meets an additional time/week before school with the teachers.

There is an option of adding psychoanalysis or psychotherapy to the mix if it is felt to be indicated.  This seems to be a place that generates child psychoanalytic cases in an environment of containment. There is a good working environment among Dr. Farley, Dr Manning and the child psychoanalysts in the Houston community, those qualified and those currently in training. Any willing child psychoanalyst can be called upon to work with a particular child who needs their help at the New School in the Heights.

As for the economics of the school, ninety percent of the students fall into a full fee range which is about $22,000+ per year.  Ten percent of the students are scholarship supported.  The fee for any individual therapy with the child is separate from the fee for the school tuition. The fee for individual therapy is individually determined and is set on a case-by-case basis by the treating child psychoanalyst with the family.  Dr. Farley serves as the Clinical Director at this facility without taking a salary. Grants support some of the schools activities.  To have such a resource within a community is a fantastic advantage.

The Symposium itself lasted two days.  During this time there were four stimulating case presentations by the “teams.”

The presentations demonstrated how these Houston child analysts, teachers and parent-helpers think, work, and get in emotional contact with the children they serve and their families.

Dr. Farley was impressive as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.  He carefully and thoughtfully weighs the reasons why a child/teen should or should not be on medication when it is requested.  Would that each community in the United States had such a caring psychiatrist/psychoanalyst available for consultation with children.  Dr. Manning and the team of teachers and parent helpers were marvelous—caring, respectful, expecting the children to be in charge of themselves and facilitating doing just that so they could learn.

On Sunday morning, there was a presentation by Roy Aruffo, M.D., titled “A Model for Consultation With Teachers.”  For further information about this psychoanalytic school contact their website: newschoolheights.org. Renee Shaffer is the office administrator: tel. 713-802-1256.

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