Shortly after psychoanalysis was first used as a treatment method for adults, it began to be practiced with children, too. However, differences between children and adults urged the first child psychoanalysts to be more creative and find suitable methods for children. For example, the difficulty of using the free association method with children, led Hermine Hug Hellmuth and Melanie Klein to use play as a form of free association. Similarly, drawings and Winnicott’s squiggle method are means that allow children to express their unconscious. The fact that children are dependent on their parents unlike in adults results in the inclusion of parents in the treatment. The psychoanalyst makes regular family interviews parallel to the psychoanalytic work with the child.
Today psychoanalytic work with children and adolescents includes, as Winnicott describes, therapeutic consultation, psychoanalytical psychotherapy, psychoanalytical interviews with the parents, and most importantly, psychoanalysis sessions with the child at least three times a week. The most frequent complaints a child psychoanalysts encounters are adaptation problems and emotional problems (anxiety, depression, inhibition) that lie behind behavioral problems.
Psychoanalytical work with children and adolescents requires special training.