Pre-latency: Development and Treatment

Child Psychoanalytic Training (CPT)
2019-20, 1st Trimester — Fridays, 10:15-11:45am
Denise C.K. Fort, PhD
Flaviane Ferreira, MD LMHC


Welcome to our seminar on prelatency. Psychoanalyst Robert Tyson, the editor of Analysis of the Under-Five Child, called the years before five "the golden age for a psychoanalysis."

However, many child analysts today have limited analytic experience with prelatency children.

And other mental health professionals generally have had little exposure to the benefits of psychoanalytic treatment for the very young.

The aim of this course is to gain knowledge and understanding of early developmental processes, illuminating the pleasures and challenges of analytic work with prelatency children.

The readings and class discussions will further your understanding of pathology in this age group. The readings are drawn from a combination of classical and contemporary articles. We will emphasize how to think psychoanalytically about the inner world of children with a focus on how that world is expressed in their relationships with significant others.

Our goal is also to provide you with an understanding of the manifold interacting elements that influence psychological development during prelatency years. We will examine the concepts of play, nonverbal communication, the role and efficacy of verbal interpretation, the analyst as transference object as contrasted with the analyst as developmental object. Our hope is that this seminar will enrich your work with this age group and their parents and equip you to conduct analytic treatment with young children.

Learning Objectives

As a result of taking this course participants will be able to:

  1. discuss the domains of typical psychological development in the prelatency child.
  2. identify challenges to typical development which have become problematic for a child.
  3. discuss comprehensive methods to evaluate children and their families for treatment.
  4. describe the importance of play and its meanings and use in treating the young child.
  5. identify the function of the analyst as a developmental object.

September 13, 2019 — Foundations and Modifications Required in the Treatment of Diverse Populations

[54 pages]

We begin with a discussion of the major historical, conceptual, and educational factors that have hindered a wider acceptance of psychoanalysis for those young children whose difficulties make this the treatment of choice. Then we will explore typical and problematic development in several domains: sense of self/agency, sense of others, use of defenses and other adaptations to the environment.


Tyson, R.L. (2001) Introduction in Analysis of the under-five child. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. pp.ix-xv.

Nachman, P., Balas, A., Karush, R. (2013). Prologue: treatment of the under five child. Psychoanalytic Inquiry 33(4):309-311.

Tyson, P. (2005) Affects, agency, and self-regulation: Complexity theory in the treatment of children with anxiety and disruptive behavior disorders. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. 53(1):159-187.

Sugarman, A. (2018) The importance of a promoting a sense of self-agency in child analysis. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 71:108-122.

September 20, 2019 — Child Analytic Technique: The Relationship with the Analyst

[18 pages]

The developmental capacities of prelatency children require techniques appropriate to their cognitive and psychological capabilities. How does analytic treatment enable the child to move from the preoedipal to the oedipal stage and, in some cases, into latency? In the next two seminars we will pay close attention to and discuss how psychoanalytic treatment leads to change in the child patient. We will examine the object-relational and non-verbal aspects of the analytic dyad in the light of current two-person psychoanalytic thought. First, we will look at the therapeutic object relationship: the child’s use of the analyst not only as a transference object but as a developmental object.

Neely, C. (2018) The developmental object and therapeutic action. Marianne Kris Memorial Lecture at the ACP conference in Santa Fe, 2018. Unpublished.

Miller, J.M. (2013) Developmental psychoanalysis and developmental objects. Psychoanalytic Inquiry 33(4):312-322.

Harrison, A.M. (2013) Comments on “Developmental psychoanalysis and developmental objects”. Psychoanalytic Inquiry 33(4):323-329.

September 27, 2019 — Insight and Interpretation

[56 pages]

What is the role of interpretation in the analysis of children?

Sugarman, A. (2003) Dimensions of the child analyst’s role as a developmental object: affect regulation and limit setting . The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 58:189-213.

Sugarman, A. (2003) A new model for conceptualizing insightfulness in the psychoanalysis of young children . Psychoanalytic Quarterly 72(2):325-355.

October 4, 2019 — Countertransference and the Potential for Enactments

[59 pages]

Describe the function and use of countertransference experiences which arise in the course of working with children?

Stroufe, L.A.; Egeland, B.; Carlson, E.A.; Collins, W.A. (2005) The Development of the Person. New York, New York: The Guilford Press. pp106-147.

Sugarman, A. (2013) The centrality of beating fantasies and wishes in the analysis of a three-year-old girl. Psychoanalytic Inquiry 33(4):351-367.

October 11, 2019 — Play

[47 pages]

Why is play such a critical component ln the analysis of the young child?

Ferro, A. (1999) The Bi-Personal Field: Experiences in Child Analysis. New York, New York: Routledge. pp54-76.

Gomberoff, E. (2013) Playing the game the child allots. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis 94(1):67-81.

Kohn, E.I.; Huddleston, C.; Kaufman, A. (2019) Analyzing Children. New York, New York: Rowman & Littlefield. pp143-151.

October 18, 2019 — Play, Therapeutic Action, and the Digital World

[44 pages]

What is the impact of overuse of screen time?

Kohn, E.I.; Huddleston, C.; Kaufman, A. (2019). Analyzing Children. New York, New York: Rowman & Littlefield. pp127-142.

Cohen, P. and Solnit, A. (1993) Play and therapeutic action. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 48:49-63.

Meersand, P. (2017). Early latency and the impact of the digital world : exploring the effect of technological games on evolving ego capacities, superego development, and peer relationships. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 70:117-129.

October 25, 2019 — Trauma: Diverse Experiences in Diverse Populations

[47 pages]

What are the characteristics of analysis that make analytic treatment an effective preventative tool?

Shapiro, S. (1973) Preventive analysis following a trauma: A 4 1/2-year-old girl witnesses a stillbirth. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 28:249-285.

Strasburger, V.C. (2017) The death of childhood. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 70(1):91-100.

November 1, 2019 — Environmentally Induced Separation Anxiety

[24 pages]

What is the young child likely to experience when separated from parents for any significant length of time?

Bowlby, J., Robertson, J., and Rosenbluth, D. (1952) “A Two-Year-Old Goes to Hospital”. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 7:82-94. (film)

Robertson, J. (1956) A mother’s observations on the tonsillectomy of her four-year-old daughter . The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 11:410-433.

November 8, 2019 — Masturbation: The Use and Integration of Genital Sensations

[46 pages]

What is the psychic function of masturbation and masturbatory fantasies in the young child?

Sherkow, S. (2013) Sonia: the vicissitudes of masturbatory fantasies in a preoedipal child. Psychoanalytic Inquiry 33(4):374-393.

Barrett, D. (2013) On being driven crazy: discussion of “Sonia: the vicissitudes of masturbatory fantasies in a preoedipal child”. Psychoanalytic Inquiry 33(4):394-401.

Pelaccio, J. (1996) Masturbation fantasies in a prelatency girl: early female body fantasy conflicts as a major determinant in the experience of primary femininity. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. 44(S):333-350.

November 15, 2019 — Case Presentations: Narcissism; Encopresis; Phobia

[78 pages]

What is the role of affect in childhood disorders?

Trad, P.V. (1990). From a World More Full of Weeping than he can Understand:—A Developmental Approach to Disordered Affect. Contemp. Psychoanal., 26:200-222.

Sugarman, A. (1999) The boy in the iron mask: super ego issues in the analysis of a two-year-old encopretic. Psychoanalytic Quarterly 68(4):497-519.

Tyson, R. (1978) Notes on the analysis of a prelatency boy with a dog phobia. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 33:427-458.

November 22, 2019 — The Role of Affect in Treating Both the Inhibited and Disorganized Child

[19 pages]

What is a useful therapeutic approach in treating both the inhibited and the disorganized child?


Holinger, P.C. (2016) Further considerations of theory, technique, and affect in child psychoanalysis: Two prelatency cases. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis 97(5): 1279-1297.