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Children in Care in Colombia: Disturbed Family Contexts and Psychic Structure
Cecilia Muñoz Vila
The Harris Meltzer Trust / Softcover / Mar 2020
9781912567751 (ISBN-10: 191256775X)
Psychoanalysis with Infants, Children & Adolescent
reg price: $47.50 our price: $ 45.13
240 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

Culturally based therapy with children and adolescents in social care in Colombia, using the psychoanalytic model of family structure developed by Donald Meltzer and Martha Harris, ‘The child-in-the-family-in-the-community’.

This book documents research and therapeutic work carried out with children and adolescents living in social care or disturbed family circumstances in Bogotá, Colombia. The children, aged from two onwards, were seen by clinical psychologists from Javeriana University in a programme developed by Cecilia Muñoz Vila in conjunction with the Colombian Institute of Social Welfare.

The research model used is based on ‘The child-in-the-family-in-the-community’ by Donald Meltzer and Martha Harris, and the methods used by the therapists include play, drama, drawing, singing, and other modes of encouraging the children’s own creative cultural responses to help express and work through their difficult situations.

Many of the children and young people had experienced not only familial disruption but violence ranging from murder of a parent to recruitment into guerrilla bands. However their psychic struggles have a universal relevance and were treated, or explored, in an intensely empathic and mutually educative way by their young therapists, resulting in moving stories of the individual’s capacity to grasp developmental opportunities.

Table of Contents:


1. From abandonment to object relations and adoption
Raquel Sofía Díaz and Cecilia Muñoz Vila

2. Institutionalised values and the dismantling of bonds
Luisa Fernanda Cuta and Cecilia Muñoz Vila

3. Destructive identifications arising from abuse and murder
Lina Torres and Cecilia Muñoz Vila

4. Keeping the internal object alive
Johanna Díaz and Cecilia Muñoz Vila

5. A storyteller with learning difficulties
Cecilia Cortés and Cecilia Muñoz Vila

6. Psychic disorientation and object destruction
Julio Galindo and Cecilia Muñoz Vila

7. A teenager living with rejection and loneliness
Marcela Solano and Cecilia Muñoz Vila

8. Adolescents returning from war
Natalia Aguirre and Cecilia Muñoz Vila

9. Mourning a dead parent
Gloria Quijano and Cecilia Muñoz Vila

10. Matriarchal domination and an absent father
Andrés Lasprilla and Cecilia Muñoz Vila

11. Family disturbances and psychic boundary failures
Cecilia Muñoz Vila

Addendum: the training workshops



About the Author:

Cecilia Muñoz Vila is a psychoanalyst and sociologist in Bogotá with many years of research experience working with abandoned and abused children. In 1972 she was appointed advisor to the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, during which she researched the social system of street children, their lives in protection institutions, and their return to their families which were frequently dominated by abusive and violent stepfathers.

From 1973 to 1983 she was part of a research team engaged in projects with child labour conditions in the country and the city; migrant child workers; rural educational programmes for children; regional development programmes; recreational activities in the city; and living conditions of the elderly. She has been involved since 1984 with a well-known care institution for children in Bogotá, the Hogares Club Michin (HCM), founded in 1952. She worked at first as advisor to the Board of Directors, then as a member of the Board and director of the research committee. She decided to unify the management of the protection home programmes. In 2000, a battered women’s programme was set up, providing therapeutic assistance to groups of women with their children and helping to protect them from family mistreatment.

In 2004, Muñoz Vila presented a training plan to the professional staff of the three programmes with the aim of coordinating them under a coherent conceptual scheme. The general objective was to train staff in the comprehension of the Meltzer and Harris (1976) model of the relationships and interaction between individual, family and community, in order to establish the nature of the educational role in the programmes, projects and activities of the HCM. In 1989 Muñoz Vila became a member of the Colombian Psychoanalytical Society, where between 1992 and 1998 she taught seminars on Bion, Meltzer, psychoanalytical thought, and clinical histories. She left the Society in 1999 but published several papers in their Psychoanalytical Review. Since 2002 she has been leading seminars at the Javeriana University on psychoanalytical thought, and supervises the final papers of the students. She also participates in research activities with groups of teachers and students on maltreated women, abandoned and abused children, and adolescents.

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