San Francisco Psychiatrist Gets Award for Combining Childhood Education and Psychoanalysis—Treating preschoolers with Autism, Learning Disorders and Serious Emotional Disorders

Nov. 5, 2015 / SAN FRANCISCO — Monday afternoon, Gilbert Kliman, M.D. got a call from the American Psychoanalytic Association announcing that he was awarded the 2016 Anna Freud Prize for Combining The Fields of Education and Psychoanalysis. The award committee was unanimous for the first time in its history. This is the latest in a series of prestigious awards recognizing Dr. Kliman’s contributions to treatment of early childhood autism and other psychiatric disorders among preschoolers.

 Gilbert W. Kliman, MD and 25 colleagues working with him on two continents have been documenting impressive clinical outcomes. Since 1965 they have been using an in-classroom treatment for children with serious cognitive and serious emotional disorders using an in-classroom treatment method called Reflective Network Therapy or RNT. Dr. Kliman is the Medical Director of the San Francisco based nonprofit, The Children’s Psychological Health Center (CPHC). The latest project is based in Santa Rosa, CA. Kliman is a prolific presenter, peer reviewed researcher and frequently teaches specialized courses in his field. He trains teacher-therapist teams and supervises start-up affiliated RNT service sites using state of the art videoconferencing.

Kliman’s decades of testing the method he helped invent—and then went on to develop, study and manualize—has inspired independent replication and controlled outcome testing of Reflective Network Therapy around the country and in Argentina. International interest in RNT increased in 2014 when Dr. Kliman gave a major presentation of 40 plus years of outcome data in a meta-analysis of clinical outcomes for 8 RNT service projects and 5 control and comparison projects at an international conference in Paris. In 2015, Harvard’s Alexandra Harrison, MD presented the RNT method at a professional conference in Edinburgh and Dr. Kliman presented RNT in Stockholm to the European Psychoanalytic Association.

Benefits to Child Patients with Reduced Costs for Parents, Schools and Taxpayers

RNT treatment benefits include significant and sustained IQ rises along with robust mental health gains. Studies consistently show that these improvements are regularly achieved after only 8 months of RNT treatment, which is much faster than with other methods—a cost savings benefit. A unique feature of the method is that several days a week (ideally every day) each child patient gets a short (15–20 minute) psychotherapy session. The highest frequency and number of short therapy sessions is associated with the highest IQ rises in studies posted on and on

Because existing preschool teaching staff of public and private preschools are easily and quickly trained in RNT interactive techniques, and, just one part-time therapist can treat up to 8 children daily—right in the classroom as part of the small social network in that “real life space”—this method is also cost-effective regarding professional services. This has held true in past and current CPHC affiliated service sites—including in a six-year service project in a Public School Special Education setting in San Mateo, CA.

Plans for a New Resource in Santa Rosa: The Reflective Network Therapy Training Institute

The Children’s Psychological Health Center is looking for an adaptable building to house preschool classrooms and create a national training center to handle the growing interest in replicating Reflective Network Therapy expressed by educators and psychotherapists alike.

Currently, Dr. Kliman and clinical colleagues provide services in a fully inclusive therapeutic preschool in Santa Rosa. A CPHC-trained therapist is using RNT at the Ann Martin Center in Piedmont. The Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute is using RNT to train psych interns in MPI’s therapeutic Walnut Lake Preschool. Dr. Alexandra Harrison continues to apply RNT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.