some landmarks
in the development of child psychotherapy in Normandy (France)


Bianca Lechevalier (full member of the S.P.P.)

In the 1960s, François Blondel, then a young member of the I.P.A.-affiliated Paris Psychoanalytic Society [Société Psychanalytique de Paris or S.P.P.], took the pioneering step of inviting two well-known analysts, Maria Torok and Nicolas Abraham, to help establish child analysis as a method of treatment here in Caen. They were instrumental in training child psychotherapists, including E. Korotkoff (now an S.P.P. member himself), to work in the local Child Guidance Clinic. At approximately the same time, Lacanian psychoanalysis began to develop in the region, thanks in particular to Léone Richet, a pupil of Françoise Dolto.
In the 1970s, with the support of André Berge of the Claude Bernard Centre in Paris, the present writer set up a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Department in the Caen University Medical and Psychological Clinic for children and adolescents, and, in the University itself, began giving a series of lectures in Clinical Psychology, with a marked psychoanalytic orientation. I was thus able to offer intensive psychotherapeutic treatment on an out-patient basis in the University Clinic to several autistic or psychotic children. Long-term treatment of this kind (lasting sometimes until young adulthood) helped many of these children to play a full part in the social fabric of the community and, in some cases, to lead a perfectly ordinary emotional and sexual life as adults.
In the other part of the Normandy region (around Rouen and Le Havre), thanks to the efforts of Nicole Berry (of the I.P.A.-affiliated French Psychoanalytic Association [Association Psychanalytique de France or A.P.F.] and Jacqueline Berge [S.P.P.], child psychoanalysis and psychotherapy began to take root there also.
In the 1980s, James Gammill played a major role in Normandy (as he had done in the south of France) in creating a training course for child psychotherapists. His contribution in establishing links between different training institutes and in developing a space for sharing our experience as psychoanalysts in the region - thereby ensuring that everything was not centred exclusively on Paris - was truly a crucial one. He put me in touch with Louis Edy [A.P.F.] in Alençon (Normandy) and with Albert Namer [S.P.P.] who travelled from Paris to work with me on a part-time basis in the University Clinic. Over the past 20 years, Albert Namer has never failed to honour this commitment in spite of many difficulties, and we are all extremely grateful to him for his contribution to the psychoanalytic treatment of children and adolescents and to the training of psychotherapists; he has been particularly helpful in encouraging thinking about the global impact of institutional parameters on our work, and in developing the psychoanalytic approach in general in Normandy. He was also for a time an assistant lecturer in our local university, and was instrumental in setting up the Adolescent and Young Adult Department in the University Clinic.
Over the past 20 years, then, supervisions and training seminars have developed, and in 1982 we inaugurated the first of a long series of Annual Encounters on Child Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy [les Rencontres Annuelles de Psychothérapie et de Psychanalyse de l'Enfant], with meetings taking place both in the University and in a renovated water-mill in the nearby countryside. The recent (September 2001) E.F.P.P. Congress was to some degree the culmination of these Encounters, with their emphasis on workshops and small discussion groups. Among other noteworthy guest speakers, we have been able to welcome James Gammill, Geneviève Haag, Jean Bégoin and Florence Guignard, Anne Anzieu, Jenny Aubry-Roudinesco, Piera Aulagnier, Didier Houzel, Claudine Geissmann, Irma and Eric Brenman (on several occasions, including private seminars), Leon Grinberg, Salomon Resnik, Lore Schacht, Anne Alvarez, Jean Bergès and Yolanda Gampel. The Caen branch of the Paris-based Psychoanalytic Study and Research Group on Child and Infant Development [Groupe d'Etudes et de Recherches Psychanalytiques pour le Développement de l'Enfant et du Nourrisson or G.E.R.P.E.N.] was initially responsible for organizing these activities. Some of the psychotherapists trained here have gone on to become members of one or other of the I.P.A.-affiliated French Psychoanalytic Societies.
Many Rouen-based psychotherapists working within the same psychoanalytic tradition as ourselves attend our seminars. They have since been able to open up new spaces for analytic thinking in that part of Normandy also. Jeanne Pourrinet in particular has played an important role in this and has recently become a training member of our own Association (see below).
For approximately four years, Annick Maufras du Châtelier (Paris) supervised a training group in psychoanalytic Infant Observation, thus enabling other colleagues to go on to take up posts of responsibility in the local infant care network.
In 1991, Didier Houzel arrived in Caen. His talent for organization soon helped us set up a full-blown training course in child and adolescent psychotherapy, under the aegis initially of the Caen branch of the G.E.R.P.E.N., then of a new Association we founded together: the Regional Association for Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy [Association Régionale de Psychothérapie Psychanalytique de l'Enfant et de l'Adolescent or A.R.P.P.E.A.]. I am at present the Chairperson of this Association. As a result, and in spite of initial difficulties, we have managed to increase the number of seminars, in particular thanks to the participation of psychoanalysts working in foreign countries - Janine Puget, David Maldavsky and Clara Roitmann, for example. Since Didier Houzel is also Professor of Child Psychiatry at Caen University Medical School, he was able to create a University Diploma Course in Infant Observation that draws students from all over Normandy and elsewhere. He was instrumental in giving a distinctively psychoanalytic impetus to teaching in child psychiatry, furthering research into infantile autism and undertaking psychotherapeutic treatment in the University training hospital.
Already an individual member of the E.F.P.P., Didier Houzel militated in favour of our group joining the European Federation, and, with Claudine Geissmann and Anastasia Nakov, helped to establish the French Federation of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy [Fédération Française de Psychothérapie de l'Enfant et de l'Adolescent], which has since joined the E.F.P.P.
During the same period, in Rouen, the European Society for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy [Société Européenne de Psychothérapie de l'Enfant et de l'Adolescent or S.E.P.E.A.] was founded, with seminars and supervision groups chaired by Anne Couplan and Monique Lawday, and workshops under the leadership of Florence Guignard and Anne Anzieu. (The present author is also a member of the S.E.P.E.A.)
At present, the A.R.P.P.E.A., with its group-based "holding" of students, each of whom has additional individual tutoring, has enabled a number of psychotherapists to complete their training course, and several former students have gone on to become members of the Association (and, as I stated earlier, Ms Pourrinet, for example, is herself now a training member).
Our work ethos is very strongly based on three-session-per-week individual psychoanalysis, a psychoanalytic approach to case material, and group training and supervision as a way of limiting the idealization tendency one often encounters in this kind of transference. Our membership of the E.F.P.P. will help us, I am sure, to moderate any "endogamous" inclination in what is, after all, a fairly small region of France, to move on out of our provincial cocoon and to open up new horizons for encounters such as those we had during the recent Congress.


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last modified: 2002-01-08