Isca Salzberger-Wittenberg is a Consultant Psychoanalytic Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist who worked at the Tavistock Clinic for twenty-five years and was its Vice-Chairman for ten years. She was a Senior Tutor in the clinical training of child psychotherapists and head of child psychotherapy in the Adolescent Department. She later also trained as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with adults.
Isca was trained during the 1950s on the Tavistock Child Psychotherapy course established in 1948 by John Bowlby and Esther Bick, and she later rejoined the clinic in 1965 as a senior staff member.
Her special interests as a teacher built on two features, her devotion to Infant Observation, which she taught for many years, and her conviction that the use of group process in small and large group teaching greatly enriched the learning of group members. Throughout her career as a senior trainer, she energetically encouraged the use of attention to the emotional life and atmosphere of the group alongside attention to the object of study.
Building on the Introductory Group Relations-based event attended by all new students each September, she created a parallel experiential 'leaving event' for trainees when their courses ended.
In the early 1970s she took on the leadership of a hugely successful part-time course for teachers at all levels of education to help them understand the emotional aspects of teacher/pupil relationships and to think about the systems within which they worked. This work led to an important book opening up the field of counselling aspects of education in the same way that her earlier influential book introducing psychoanalytic ideas to social workers had done. Her final book returned to her long term fascination with the vital meaning of beginnings and endings in human life.
As vice-chair of the Professional Committee, she played a lively part in the direction of the clinic’s development and wider place in the community, and in its social life, including staff pantomimes. Within the adolescent department she was a major figure, interested in new clinical services, and supervising generations of psychiatrists as well as child psychotherapists.
She has lectured and run seminars in Austria, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the USA and run workshops in Australia and South Africa. She held temporary professorships at Turin and Klagenfurt University and is a life-long honorary senior staff member of the Tavistock.
She has published articles in professional journals, contributed chapters to a number of psychoanalytic books and written three books: Psychoanalytic Insight and Relationships, The Emotional Experience of Learning and Teaching and Experiencing Endings and Beginnings.