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Our Therapeutic Approach - Part 2


Integration And Unintegration

The psychoanalyst and paediatrician D.W. Winnicott argued that the infant is born with an in-built tendency to develop and mature, which, with ‘good-enough parenting’, takes the infant through these earliest stages of unintegration to a point of ego integration; the process whereby the child brings together (with help and holding) all the fragmentary bits of experience to the point where they begin to ‘hold’ themselves.

Unfortunately, most of the children who come to Holibrook House have not had this satisfactory beginning to their emotional lives. They will remain to varying degrees in the ‘unintegrated’ state of the newborn.

Consequently, the child will not have developed any sense of predictability or understanding of the world, people or themselves. “If this emotional deprivation is not addressed, then we can confidently predict a journey through life marked by regular contact with either the criminal justice or mental health systems or both, accompanied by another set of family problems.”

Other Approaches We Incorporate

Of course, the adoption of the concept of integrated and unintegrated emotional states is important for professional workers at Holibrook House and those working closely with us. However, owing to the diverse underlying needs of our children and young people, we do not view any single concept as the only strategy for the fulfillment of a complete working pattern. Our practices, therefore, draw on wide -ranging resources and perspectives, ensuring holistic development.

Although the area of emotional integration and unintegration is the primary framework underpinning assessments and treatment programmes in our homes, we promote a sound knowledge of various other perspectives. The combination of these when driving every day practices leads to workers and teachers at Holibrook House and Hopewell School, reaching the heart of the matter when working with emotionally fragmented children and young people.


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