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Understanding and Treating the Aggression of Children : Fawns in Gorilla Suits
Crenshaw, David A., PhD and John B. Mordock, PhD., ABPP
Jason Aronson / Rowman & Littlefield / Hardcover / 2005-02-01 / 0765700344
Infant, Child & Adolescent
price: $65.00 (may be subject to change)
312 pages
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Understanding and Treating the Aggression of Children: Fawns in Gorilla Suits provides a thorough review of the theoretical and research basis of the techniques and interventions in the treatment of aggressive and sometimes violent children. This is not a dry and sterile academic review but rather one that comes from work directly in the therapy room with thousands of hurting and in many cases traumatized children. One cannot read this book without being deeply moved and touched by the pain of these children and yet also be buoyed by their courage and willingness to persevere against formidable barriers.

The metaphor of the fawn in a gorilla suit is introduced, followed by chapters covering developmental failures and invisible wounds, profound and unacknowledged losses, the implication of new findings from neuroscience, psychodynamics of aggressive children, risk factors when treating the traumatized child, special considerations when treating children in foster care, strengthening relationships with parents and helping them be more effective, enhancing relationships with direct care and instructional staff, developing mature defenses, and coping skills, creating a therapeutic milieu for traumatized children, and fostering hope and resilience.
--- from the publisher


Fawns in Gorilla Suits
Developmental Failures and Invisible Wounds
Profound and Unacknowledged Losses
New Findings from Neuroscience: Implications for Treatment
The Psychodynamics of Gorilla Suit Wearers
Risk Factors When Treating the Traumatized Child
Some Special Considerations When Treating Children in Foster Care
Strengthening Relationships With Parents: Identifying the Parent's Struggles
Strengthening Relationships with Parents: Helping Parents to be More Effective
Strengthening Relationships with Direct Care and Instructional Staff
Developing Mature Defenses and Calming Skills
Creating a Therapeutic Milieu For Traumatized Children
Fostering Hope and Resilience
Past and Present Prevention and Intervention Services and Some Suggested Modifications


"The book's many strengths begin with the authors. Their combined experience includes authorship and/or editorship of at least 15 books. The flow of the book and their engaging style amply convey the benefits of such experience. Also, together the authors have decades of therapy experience with emotionally disturbed children and their families.

The book provides clear guidelines for therapists. There is much to be gained from authors' experience to guide therapists. The book is well written, engaging, and a mix of anecdotes, cases, and therapist material. The authors provide a psychodynamic understanding of children exposed to trauma, untoward parenting, and multiple life events. Clinicians in contact with these children will recognize the endless stream of tragic stories and difficulties in and importance of helping. Also, there are many helpful principles to guide facets of therapy, contacts with parents, and needs of children."—Alan E. Kazdin, PsycCRITIQUES

"Understanding and Treating the Aggression of Children, is a splendid and important addition to the clinical literature in this vital, yet relatively neglected, domain of child therapy. Its excellence lies in its lucid and concise depiction of the ingredients that go into the 'creation' of such children and its forthright yet subtle ideas as to 'how to best treat them.' It beautifully depicts how the insidious 'unholy trinity' of loss, voicelessness, and shame combine to create the 'fawn-like' underlying personality structure of these children. It goes on to address the essential roles of the impact on the therapist of working with these children; the need and methods for how to work with their parents; the way to address these children's inadequate defensive structures; the importance of milieu therapy in working with the most extreme of these children; the interplay of developmental/psychodynamic forces with the child's neuro-physiology, and, crucially, the attempts to revive a viable sense of hopefulness in these children as the beginning step to better and more secure attachments and empathy. This book should be in the library of any child clinician working with seriously troubled youngsters—it is engagingly written, compellingly astute, and unstintingly helpful in its approach."—Steve Tuber, Ph.D., City University of New York at City College

"This first of two volumes is a comprehensive A to Z guide for clinicians who work with aggressive and violent children. It covers a wealth of information from understanding the underlying causes through developmental failures and recent findings from neuroscience, along with psychodynamic formulations on through to special considerations to treatment and working with parents. The authors close with a chapter on fostering hope and resilience that gives us all hope in working with such a difficult population. This book makes an important contribution to the field of child therapy and needs to be included in professional and personal libraries."—Athena A. Drewes, Psy.D., RPT-S, The Astor Home for Children

About the Authors:

David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., is the founding director of Rhinebeck Child and Family Center, LLC in Rhinebeck, New York. He is a registered play therapist-supervisor and author of Bereavement (now in its third printing), and a forthcoming book A Guidebook for Engaging Resistant Children in Therapy: A Projective Drawing and Storytelling Series.

John B. Mordock, Ph.D., ABPP, was employed by the Astor Home for Children for 28 years. In his last position, he directed the agency's community mental health programs, helping to develop a full continuum of services for emotionally disturbed children and their families. He is the author of twelve books, including a textbook on exceptional children.

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