Review of "Assessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second Edition"
By Carolyn S. Schroeder and Betty N. Gordon Guilford Press, 2002 Review by Michael Sakuma, Ph.D. on Nov 14th 2003
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
2) determining the social context
of the complaint.
issues are assessed, as are
4) parent and family characteristics,
medical history, and the
5) problem's consequences.
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
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.