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2019 - 2020 Child Colloquium Series

Sarah Stadler, MD, Chair
Jacqueline Ward, PhD, Co-Chair
David Frankel, PhD, Courtney Hartman, PsyD, Tam-Anh Pham, LMFT, and Yen Quoc, PsyD Committee Members

Program Title: Call of the Whine
Date: Saturday, October 19, 2019
Time: 10:00am - 12:00noon
Presenters: Kristen Carey, PsyD and Elissa Meryl, PsyD
Discussant: Maureen Katz, MD
Location: San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis
444 Natoma Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Program Fee: Free
To Register: Click here to register for this program →

When children whine, they challenge parents and caregivers to engage emotionally. What happens when a device is introduced into the relational equation and a caregiver offers a screen as a substitute for face-to-face contact or bodily comfort? Children’s emotional needs are not met; rather, there is an illusion of containment where needs become sedated as children are lulled under the spell of the screen and its contents.

We propose that an over reliance on media as a mechanism for managing feelings impacts attachment and relational expectations. In this“media-centric” attachment model, children learn that when they are upset or in need of connection they should rely on a device rather than human contact. An attachment template forms based on a dyad that does not address complex emotional states. The resulting dependency on the screen by both parent and child leads to a belief that strong emotions cannot be felt or metabolized by the couple, but are best relegated to a non-human experience.

Therapists are confronted with this attachment experience as we try and meet our young patients in their relational world. The media device is presented as a third object in the room and requires creative thinking to understand their emotional landscape and to compassionately forge a way back to human connection.

Kristen Carey, PsyD is in private practice in San Francisco, where she specializes in working with children, adolescents, and their parents. Her interests include the effect of technology on psychic development, and the impact of inter-generational trauma on the parent-child relationship. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Child Psychotherapy.

Elissa Meryl, PsyD has a private practice in Noe Valley where she specializes in adolescents and couples. Her work is informed by an interest in yoga, dance and meditation and the benefits of bringing greater mindfulness to all aspects of life.

The Child Colloquium Series are offered free of charge through a generous support of the SFCP and the Sophia Mirviss Fund.