Toward a Theory of Child-Centered Psychodynamic Family Treatment: The Anna Ornstein Reader offers a clear introduction to Anna Ornstein’s ground-breaking work on psychoanalytic child orientated family therapy. Drawing on her writing from across her long career and including new material, the book sets out her important theoretical work on the mind, self, development, and parental influences, and the therapeutic consequences of these concepts.

Anna Ornstein’s self-psychological work is unique and outstanding. First published in 1974, a time when attachment and affect regulation theory had just started, Ornstein’s work has developed far-reaching ideas, therapeutic concepts, and practicable approaches for psychodynamic children and adolescence therapy, based on the concept of analytic self-psychology, which has anticipated very early results of later affect regulation and attachment research. This kind of treatment considers parental work not as only accompanying, but as central, representing the core of the treatment process. The parental maturation process is directly described, which should enable the parents to accompany their child empathically, and therefore attachment-security enhancing. This treatment concept integrates the later findings of neurobiologically-based attachment and affect regulation theory which emphasizes that intrapsychic and interpersonal experience are in a continuous and everlasting exchange. In this book, Eva Rass offers a better understanding of Ornstein’s approach, an insight into her life and work, and an introduction into the concept of analytic self psychology, followed by a selection of Ornstein’s significant publications, in which the central concern is clearly elaborated, to give the reader a thorough introduction and understanding of her work.

This book will be of great value and interest to professionals working with children and families in psychoanalytic settings, and to students training in child psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and family therapy.



1. Introduction (Eva Rass)  2. Insights in the Life and Work of Anna Ornstein (Eva Rass)  3. Insight Into the Concept of Analytic Self Psychology (Eva Rass)  4. Making Contact with the Inner World of the Child (Anna Ornstein)  5. Parenting as a Function of the Adult Self: A Psychoanalytic Developmental Perspective (Anna Ornstein and Paul Ornstein)  6. Anne and Vivienne: The Early Adolescence of Two Young Teenagers (Anna Ornstein)  7. Little Hans: His Phobia and His Oedipus Complex (Anna Ornstein) 8. Changing Patterns in Parenting: Comments on the Origin and Consequences of Unmodified Grandiosity (Anna Ornstein)  9. Child-Centered Family Treatment: Conceptual Framework and Clinical Implications (Anna Ornstein) 10. Early Childhood Traumata: Adult Reorganization (Anna Ornstein) 11. Closing Remarks (Eva Rass)