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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D. (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book describes child development from infancy to school-age and its relationship to clinical intervention. It also discusses the impact of trauma, from both biological/developmental and social perspectives. The previous edition was published in 2004.
Purpose: According to the author, the book "describes child development and how it can be applied to practice with children. Beginning practitioners often feel intrigued and perplexed by the behavior of children and wonder what is 'normal.' Developmental knowledge provides a framework for assessing where a child falls within normal expectations and where he or she does not."
Audience: The book is intended for practitioners working with children, and I would add graduate students in clinical psychology, psychiatry, and social work. The author is a lecturer at the University of Michigan who specializes in infant mental health.
Features: The author begins by exploring the interaction between nature and nurture, using Bowlby's attachment theory as the foundation for understanding the parent-child relationship. He also discusses the importance of brain development, along with the effect of stress and trauma on a child and risk and protective factors in various contexts, including the child, family, and community. Part II provides the practical details of development in four age periods: infants (0-12 months), toddlers (12-36 months), preschool (3-6 years), and middle school (7-12 years). Each age period is covered in two chapters, which are organized fairly uniformly. The first chapter, development, covers physical development, attachment, cognitive development, language and communication, play, and the developing self. The second chapter, on practice, covers assessment, intervention, case examples, and observational exercises. It is clear that the author sees the first five years of a child's life as critical, given that he has devoted 326 out of the book's 494 pages to it. Helpful features include tables, figures, case studies, and the observational exercises that end the practice chapters.
Assessment: This book is filled with practical information for both novice therapists and seasoned veterans. The case vignettes help bring the material to life and the observational exercises show readers where to start. It should be on the must-reading list for any graduate student who will be working in a pediatric ward. The third edition is justified by the new information on brain development and social interactions.