Congratulations Alex De Rementeria on being appointed Editor in Chief of the Journal of Child Psychotherapy.
Alex de Rementeria trained with us after doing M9, our masters in Infant Mental Health, gaining a training post at Lewisham CAMHS close to her home in south London. On qualification she came to Mosaic Neuro-disability Specialist CAMHS and started teaching on M7 - Working with Children and Families, the pre-clinical course for which she is now the Assessment Tutor.
After three years at Mosaic she left to be a lead therapist with the Tavistock Outreach in Primary Schools project (TOPS). Alex also supervises for the clinical training in child psychotherapy, lectures for various other courses at the Trust and wrote a short course on infant development for our Digital Academy. She was co-author with Dilys Daws on the BMA award winning book ‘Finding Your Way With Your Baby’ and has published numerous articles. As if this was not enough, she went on to be appointed as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Child Psychotherapy in January 2021.
Interview by Mark Goldstone, Head of International Coordination at the Directorate of Education and Training.
We spend a moment discussing TOPS, a classically Tavi innovative service, partly funded by charity. TOPS allows earlier intervention for some, whilst also taking advantage of its situ in schools to provide access to children who are the hardest to reach and who would be unlikely to attend any form of clinic.
Alex is very much the poised and thoughtful professional, however there is no hiding the passion that sits behind this, nor a subtle sense of humour that pervades our discussion despite covering a range of serious topics. When asked about her ambitions for the journal she says quite simply, though with a real sense of purpose, “I want it to be the place where overworked colleagues can take time out to fall in love with their discipline again.”
It is clear that there will be both elements of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) under Alex’s leadership. She is emphatic about the need to shed any perception of the journal as an unapproachable ivory tower. She wants the journal to be open and to encourage high quality submissions from as diverse a range of authors as possible and is convinced that there are real talents out there doing amazing work that is not yet reaching the journal’s pages. In a similar vein she is keen to introduce articles from related disciplines, as long as they are relevant to child psychotherapists. To quote her directly, “As a discipline we need to know that our identity and our offer is robust enough to be open to cross-fertilisation rather than being protectionist and preoccupied with erosion and attack.”
To support clinicians who may not think of themselves as authors or who may feel daunted by the idea of committing their thoughts to paper, Alex is reintroducing writing workshops, free of charge and delivered by her or one of the other journal editors – Maria Papadima and Rachel Acheson. The workshops will cover working up an idea, writing to an academic standard and the processes around gaining informed consent from patients. She is at her most serious when she discusses the need to maintain the highest academic standards but smiles broadly when sharing the pleasure she gets from curating an issue, working up an amazing article and collaborating with her journal colleagues in doing this.
We move onto some of the key challenges faced by the journal, not least of which are the issues around obtaining informed consent from patients, and the professional debate around how guidance in this area should be interpreted.
She speaks of the discipline’s need to evolve and adapt, whilst staying true to its origins. In her words. “Society's problems need the application of psychoanalytic thought but psychoanalytic thought also needs to engage with society’s problems for its own development or it risks losing its potency: its creative potential and its strength.”
Alex wants the journal to support these debates in such a way that they don’t descend into unhelpful cathexis or factionalism but to enable the journal to truly play its role in developing the discipline and maintaining relevance. For this reason she is keen to encourage commentaries and response pieces to articles published.
It seems clear that there will be both orthodoxy and evolution during Alex’s tenure. An orthodoxy around academic standards then, accompanied by evolution in process and adaptation to the changing world. We have no doubt that the journal will continue to both challenge as well as inspire.