Non-Medical Cure for Children

Basic components needed for curing a child by milieu therapy :

respect + love + psychotherapy + residential care = cure

   If one component is missing the process will fail. Many services, programs, and professionals miss at least one component, then these children are called "incurable", but actually the truly therapeutic conditions are not provided.
   Sometimes the omission is deliberate, example : frequently the autistic children are not provided with psychotherapy to deny that their disturbances are caused by emotional factors. This neglect is done under the false reason that autism is caused by a neurological impairment.

Definition of being cured : when the children have reached the point where they can do as well as anybody else of the same generation : going to school,
having friends, taking professional training or studies, finding a job and keeping
it, creating their own family, and generally are and remain symptom-free.

"Usually what helps is to focus on the day with the patient and not worry about the future : progress slowly day by day, no long term planning since the
patient guides the whole process and is the measure of any action. The days will add up to a cure" (B. Bettelheim).

Result : evidence of progress in the children we try to help is the best quality
control. If no progress appears with time with a child, it means that some quality is missing to efficiently help that little person, and this commands a critical survey of what happened so far. If after some changes are implemented again no progress shows, it is time to start considering and talking with the child about how the child feels about a change of place, and to try determine why we fail to be efficient with this particular child.

Evaluation of progress : is made according to clear and simple indicators :

1°) does the child feels better now : laughs, plays, smiles, shows any signs of
happiness ?

2°) does the child eat, sleep better now ?

3°) does the child speaks, go to others, engage in relationships with others now ?

4°) does the child become independent for personal care ?

5°) are specific symptoms decreasing, like for example does the child become less violent or less depressed ?

6°) does the child engage in learning basic skills : read, write, count ?

7°) if the child is physically impaired or suffering from illness(es) of psychosomatic nature, are symptoms decreasing ?

Duration of the therapeutic process : some children having been particularly
damaged in their being, their recovery might take a number of years and progress is unlikely to be expected soon. Anyway it is never possible to predict in advance how long and how well the process will be. Thus a predetermined plan of action would be counter-productive in the same way a person undergoing psychoanalysis should not prepare in advance what to talk about at the next session, as this would keep the ego in control and thus block access to the unconscious, leading to plain inefficiency.


Rule of unlimited stay : whatever the progress of a child is, even if it is extra good the child should not be removed from the project without ces consent. We insist that should a child be completely cured, ce will still have the option of staying at the location if ce wishes so, and this with no time limit. Even if a child reaches adulthood and still feels no need to leave, there will be no pressure for ce to move out, we will just propose ce to take a greater share in the activities of the place and try to arrange so that ce gains more independence in ces life.
This rule of unlimited stay is for :
1- reason of humanity : for never rejecting someone who feels that ces only home is at this project's place
2- reason of therapy : if children knew that healing would have the consequence of terminating their life at the location, there would be a risk that some of them would avoid progressing for fear of being rejected : this would be counter-therapeutic.

   Tragic example of a rejected child : at the psychiatric hospital in Lannemezan in the Pyrenees, France, in the 1980's, a girl having "rather found her life there" stayed there and in growing older helped the staff with the care of younger children. Unfortunately, when she reached 16, she had to move to the adult ward which had a large number of old women finishing their life there. The loss of the relationships with the staff of the children ward added to the permanent living with insane and old persons drove her to despair. She committed suicide in a way that showed she could not bear the daily sight of such degraded and hopeless persons : she punctured her eyes (story told by the staff).


When children want to leave the project, we offer to follow them up to help them if needed and to know how they fare in their life. Results when known will be recorded as long term outcome.


rev. 2015



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