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Hampstead Clinic


Founded in London in 1951 by Anna Freud together with Helen Ross and Dorothy Burlingham, the Hampstead Clinic set out to provide therapy and assistance to families, to treat disturbed and handicapped children irrespective of their problems, social background or past history, and at the same time to offer aspiring analysts the most balanced and rich training possible. Anna Freud saw the Clinic as an opportunity to apply the particular psychoanalytic knowledge she had acquired in the area of child guidance.

Located at 31 Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead, London, the clinic began full operation only in 1952. It had many philanthropical supporters, notably the Field Foundation of Illinois, the Foundation for Research in Psychiatry, and the Yale Study Center. The establishment comprised six consulting rooms, a playroom, offices, a library, and a classroom for use in the training of therapists.

In addition to the treatment of children, simultaneous mother-and-child therapy was practiced under the supervision of Dorothy Burlingham. Burlingham also promoted the creation of an index that would record data gathered during child analysis, enter it on cards, and organize it thematically in close correlation with the analytic context and with what children revealed therein. Unconscious contents, anxieties, defenses, character traits, object-relationships, and manifestations of the transference were some of the themes serving as index headings. This classification system had its origins in the methods developed by Burlingham and Anna Freud when they directed the Jackson Nursery in Vienna and later the Hampstead War Nurseries in London.

For her part, Anna Freud perfected a diagnostic tool that later came to be known as the "diagnostic profile." This approach used a psychological questionnaire intended to generate diagnoses on the basis of information garnered from interviews with children and their families. The goal was to increase the reliability of child analysis while making it easier for analysts to take effective therapeutic action much earlier than had hitherto been possible.

The Hampstead Clinic soon achieved a fame that allowed its founders to undertake several pathbreaking experiments. In 1954, Burlingham started the analysis of a blind child, and this marked the beginning of a long collaboration between the clinic and the Royal National Institute of the Blind. She soon opened a nursery school for blind children in a house conceived by Ernst Freud and built in the garden of the main building. Later on, a Well Baby Clinic was set up in order to help mothers respond to the physical and emotional needs of their babies, and the observation of normal children became possible thanks to the institution of a kindergarten.

Delphine Schilton

See also: Burlingham-Tiffany, Dorothy; Childhood; Freud, Anna; Great Britain; Hietzing Schule/Burlingham-Rosenfeld; Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, The .

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