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Accreditata MUR con D.M. 02/12/2005
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Scienze e tecniche dell’educazione e dei servizi per l’infanzia, classe L-19

Clinical psychology and early childhood


Anno accademico: 2021/2022



Crediti: ECT: 6 CFU

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Doctor of Philosophy, Professor of Dynamic Psychology at the IUL University, researcher at the Multidisciplinary Laboratory of Care Relationships at the University of Florence, lecturer in numerous courses for students of medicine, physiotherapy, nursing science and psychology relating to the care relationships. For over ten years, she has been an expert on the subject of the Groups Psychodynamics course at the University of Florence. She is President of the Section “Il pupazzo di garza” of the “Lapo APS Association”. She has coordinated numerous phenomenological-hermeneutical research projects in the hospital, voluntary and educational sectors. She is the author of books adopted in university courses. She has produced articles in national and international journals. She is a member of the Scientific Society BIOM.

The course in clinical psychology and early childhood will cover the following contents:

  • Module 1 – Introduction to child psychology
  1. Introduction to attachment theory.
  2. The development of the child’s mind in the light of the containment model.
  3. Winnicott and the absolute dependency phase.
  4. Winnicott and the relative dependency phase.
  5. Winnicott and the psychological disorders of the child.
  6. Alice Miller: ‘The drama of the gifted child and the search for the true self’.


  • Module 2 – Contexts.
  1. The child’s experience in the nursery.
  2. The child’s difficulties in the nursery.
  3. Children’s experiences of life-threatening illnesses.
  4. The resources of the sick child’s needs.
  5. The experience of sick children from other countries.
  6. Shadow siblings: the experience of the sisters and brothers of sick children.


This course wants to promote the integration of the psychological theories on childhood (Bowlby, Winnicott, Bion, Miller ) with their applications in the field of childhood education. Close attention will be paid to the children’s experience in the nursery school. The course is going to face children’s experiences of life-threatening illnesses, enlightening resources and psychological needs of the sick child.

The course aims to encourage:

⮚ Knowledge and understanding. To provide basic knowledge related to child psychology.

⮚ Applied knowledge and understanding. To provide knowledge of elements of clinical psychology of developmental age within educational and hospital services.

⮚ Autonomy of judgement. To encourage the development of self-reflective skills and autonomy of judgement by accompanying individual and group reading of classical texts and examples of clinical cases.

⮚ Communication skills. Fostering the ability to express the acquired psychological competencies relating to the professional role.

⮚ Learning ability. Developing an openness to contact and an initial sensitivity to the needs of children in various work environments (educational services, hospital).

A. Knowledge and understanding

To know the theoretical and applicative assumptions of attachment theory.
To know the evolutionary model proposed by Donald Winnicott.
Knowledge of child psychological disorders as illustrated by Winnicott.
To know the issues related to emotional insecurity and psychic impoverishment of the child proposed by Alice Miller.

To know the value of the role of play in children’s psychological development.
Knowing the needs of children in the nursery and the difficulties they may face.
Knowing the needs of the seriously ill child.
Learning about children’s experiences of child life-threatening illnesses.

B. Applied knowledge and understanding

The student will be able to recognise the needs of children in the various contexts of children’s services.


C. Autonomy of judgement

The student will be able to evaluate educational models and interventions in childhood on the basis of their scientific validity.


D. Communication skills

The student will be able to communicate in both oral and written form using appropriate scientific language.
The student will be able to propose projects in the educational field.


E. Learning ability

The student will be able to independently explore the issues related to developmental psychology.


A. Use of advanced textbooks, knowledge of some cutting-edge topics in child psychology.

B. Professional approach to work and possession of appropriate skills to devise arguments, support them and solve problems in the field of child psychology within institutions. Ability to collect and interpret data useful for making independent judgements.

C. Ability to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to specialist and non-specialist audiences. Ability to work in multidisciplinary teams.

D. Ability to undertake further studies with a high degree of autonomy within the context of psychological and social disciplines.


  • 6 hours of recorded video lessons available on the platform.
  • 2 synchronous meetings per module available on the platform:

First module:

  • The role of parents in healthy child development.
  • The phenomenological-hermeneutic method: a tool for developing thesis research projects in educational and care contexts in the childhood.

Second module:

  • The experiences of severely burned children.
  • Answering questions or doubts about the topics covered in the course.
  • Podcasts of all the above-mentioned video lessons.



  • 1 course orientation forum;
  • 2 thematic follow-up forums (1 per module);
  • Possibility of taking part in the phenomenological group dedicated to the reading and discussion of the text “La nostra era una vita normale”, which collects the testimonies of parents with children affected by brain tumours. The course will be divided into a series of meetings to be agreed with the students. Afterwards, students will carry out a task, which may take the form of, for example, a video clip (at this stage it is important that the choice of how and what to present is decided by the group, in order to encourage creativity and give freedom), which will be presented to the whole class.
  • 2 structured e-activities (as described in the section in itinere assessment methods”).



Teaching materials are provided for each module: in-depth thematic studies, articles and slides by the lecturer, open access readings, online resources, reference bibliography, etc.

Compulsory bibliography:

  • Tringali, Lauro Grotto (2022) Il messaggio della gentilezza nelle relazioni di cura in pediatria Maggioli Editore
  • Papini, Tringali, Lauro Grotto (2011) La nostra era una vita normale Sorbello Editore (the book in pdf will be uploaded on the platform and made available to all students)

Optional bibliography:

If students are interested in further studying the topics covered in the course, the reference texts for the first module are:

  • Bowlby (1979) Costruzione e rottura dei legami affettivi, Raffaello Cortina Editore
  • Miller (1996) Il dramma del bambino dotato e la ricerca del vero Sé
  • Winnicott (1964) Il bambino, la famiglia e il mondo esterno, Edizioni Magi
  • Winnicott (1965) Sviluppo affettivo e ambiente, Armando Editore
  • Winnicott (1996) Bambini, Raffaello Cortina Editore

The reference texts for the second module are:

  • Goldschmied, Jackson (1996) Persone da zero a tre anni, Edizioni Junior
  • Papini, Tringali (2004) Il pupazzo di garza, Florence University Press
  • Papini (2009) L’ultima cura, Florence University Press
  • Lauro Grotto, Papini, Tringali (2011) I tumori cerebrali infantili: relazioni di cura, Maggioli Editore
  • Lauro Grotto, Tringali (2014) Fratelli d’ombra, Medicine and History Vol.5, ETS
  • Jankovic (2018) Ne vale sempre la pena, Baldini+Castoldi
  • Schmitt (2002) Oscar e la dama in rosa, Bur

Access to the final examination is subject to the following 2 e-activities:


  • E-activity 1 – The student is invited to read the text Il messaggio della gentilezza nelle relazioni di cura in pediaria and to produce a 3-page report in which he/she illustrates the feelings he/she felt while reading the book.


  • E-activity 2 – The student is invited to read, individually or participating to the phenomenological group, the text “La nostra era una vita normale” and to produce a 3-page report in which he/she illustrates the feelings she/she felt while reading the book.

The assessment of learning will take the form of an oral interview on the course contents and on the final report submitted, if any. The grade (min 18, max 30 with possible honours) is determined by the level of performance for each of the following dimensions of the oral interview: mastery of contents, appropriateness of definitions and theoretical references, clarity of argument, command of specialist language.