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by Carolyn S. Schroeder and Betty N. Gordon
Guilford Press, 2002
Review by Michael Sakuma, Ph.D. on Nov 14th 2003

Assessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second Edition

Schroeder and Gordon's second edition of Assessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems is an excellent resource for those clinicians who work with common behavioral and psychological disturbance associated with childhood.  The book seems targeted towards clinicians with little-to-moderate experience working with children, and I believe that the book hits its mark. 

The authors decided to divide the book into conceptually relevant units of human developmental functioning, as opposed to the approach of describing problems by discrete clinical disorders.  I like this organization, as it is a move away from the syndrome-labeling medical model morass and a move towards understanding and treating problems at the level of symptoms.

The first two chapters of the book, entitled "foundations" covers normal and abnormal developmental process and risk factors, as well as assessment and an outline of a "comprehensive assessment-to- intervention system" This system is truly comprehensive and based on Rutter's (1975) musings.  Very briefly, the model consists of six different guideline steps, such as

1) presenting problem clarification and

2) determining the social context of the complaint.

3) Motor/language/psychosexual/personality issues are assessed, as are

4) parent and family characteristics, medical history, and the

5) problem's consequences.  Finally,

6) the areas appropriate for intervention are clarified, chosen and targeted.  I found this book's coverage of Rutter's technique more than adequate, and a great outline for therapists who want to be confident that they are gathering the information that they need to effectively understand and help their patients. 

The majority of the book covers common developmental  problems,  including (but not limited to) eating, toilet training/ enuresis,  tics and motor disturbances, sleep problems, sexual abuse, fears and phobias, depression, aggressive  behavior  and attentional disturbance.   The third section of the book covers "high risk" stressors including sibling conflict and family change associated with divorce, death and new babies.    Included in the appendices are 36 annotated descriptions of common behavioral rating instruments for teachers, parents and self (-report).  Also included in the appendices are generic forms and matrices to aid clinicians in gathering pertinent familial information and organized behavior descriptions. 

The book is rife with developmental norms to assess behavior as well as current research into each content area.  Each problem area is described in terms of conceptualization, assessment and treatment.  In the assessment and treatment sections, clinicians are given explicit step-by-step suggestions as to appropriate treatments.  In addition, scattered throughout the book are illustrative case examples led through each of the assessment and treatment steps. 

I very much appreciated the strong biopsychosocial orientation of the book, suggesting that any given problem likely has biological, behavioral, familial and cognitive components that should be assessed and treated individually.  This is a particular strength to me, given that many of the books on the market seem to rely too heavily on a single approach, commonly biological (i.e. the child has a chemical imbalance that must be addressed pharmacologically) or behavioral (i.e. stop reinforcing the bad behavior).  This book tends towards one of the more evenhanded treatment of the subject that I have seen. 

Overall, I was quite impressed with this book.  I found that the authors walked the line between scholarly reference and cookbook for treatment very effectively.  I found the cited references informative and relevant.   In short, I think the book is would be essential for the clinician's library (especially for those who don't see many children and who might be a bit rusty in the relevant areas of focus).  In addition, I think the book would be an excellent asset for the parent who wants to have an idea of treatment rationale and process. The book is written simply enough for most parents to understand and it is never bad to be informed. 


© 2003 Michael Sakuma

Michael Sakuma is Chair of the Psychology Department at Dowling College, Long Island, New York.

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