So I would soon meet Dibs. I would go to the school and observe him in the group with the other children. I would try to see him alone for a while. Then I would visit his home for a conference with his mother. We would decide upon a time for the other appointments in the playroom at the Child Guidance Centre. We would take it from there.

We were seeking a solution to a problem and we all knew that this additional experience would be only a small glimpse into the private life of this child. We did not know what it might mean to Dibs. It was one more chance to try to catch hold of a thread that might unravel some bits of insight that could add to our understanding.

As I went down the East River Drive, I thought of many children I had known ó children who were unhappy, each frustrated in the attempt to achieve a selfhood he could claim with dignity ó children not understood, but striving again and again to become persons in their own right. Out of projected feelings, thoughts, fantasies, dreams, and hopes, new horizons grew in each child. I had known children who had been overcome by their fears and anxieties, striking out in self-defence against a world that for many reasons was unbearable to them. Some had emerged with renewed strength and capacity to cope with their worlds more constructively. Some had not been able to withstand the impact of their outrageous fortunes. And there is no pat explanation; to say that the child was rejected and not accepted means nothing in understanding the inner world of the child. Too often those terms are only convenient labels tied on as alibis to excuse our ignorance. We must avoid cich6s, quick, ready-made interpretations and explanations. If we want to get closer to the truth we must look deeper into the reasons for our behaviour.

I will go to the school tomorrow morning, I decided. Iíll telephone Dibsí mother and arrange to have a conference with her at their home as soon as possible. Iíll see Dibs next Thursday in the plat therapy room at the Child Guidance Centre. And where will it all end? If he doesnít manage to break through that is built so sturdily around himself ó and it is quite possible that he wonít ó Iíll have to think of some other kind of referral. Sometimes one thing works out very well with one but not at all with another child. We donít give up easily. We donít write off a case as Ďhopelessí without trying just one more thing. Some people think this is very bad ó to keep hope when there is no basis for hope. But we are not looking for miracle. We are seeking understanding, believing that understanding will lead us to the threshold of more effective ways of helping the person to develop and utilize his capacities more constructively. The inquiry goes on and on and we will continue to seek a way out of the wilderness of our ignorance.


Axline, V. (1964) Dibs: In search of self. England: Penguin Books . pp. 16-17