Rhinebeck Child and Family Center, LLC            

Child Therapy Techniques - The Center for Practical Tools for Child and Adolescent Therapists

Dr. David A. Crenshaw, Director  

Blue links are clickable

Upcoming Presentations

Follow Dr. Crenshaw on Facebook

See menu for You Tube Videos

Dr. Crenshaw is the proud recipient of The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hudson Valley Psychological Association.

Dr. Crenshaw is co-editing a series of books for Guilford.  Please click here for his Guilford books and ordering information.

 Rosie, first NY trial dog and what you can do to support Rosie's Law

"Heartfelt Feelings" Coloring Cards

Certified translations in 8 languages

Find out about Dr. Crenshaw and his books at Amazon Author Page

20% discount Code # 4W9CAPBK. Click for details and to order.

in print and e-book. Click to order with 20% discount Code 2E.

Dr. Crenshaw's latest books

Save 20% with Promotion Code 2E

Click here to order from Guilford

  Click here to order from Guilford

Dr. Crenshaw's book Bereavement: Counseling the Grieving throughout the Life Cycle is so successful that it is now in its third printing and earned an average customer rating of 4.0 out of 5 starsfrom Amazon.com      

Read Dr. Crenshaw's articles in Play Therapy magazine by clicking on title: "Should I Be Worried?"  "Selective Mutism" "Preverbal Trauma" "No Time or Place for Child's Play" "Sounds of Silence" "Symbolism of Windows and Doors in Play Therapy" "The Wonder of It All" "Rosie Goes to Court"  "Secrets Told to Ivy"  with permission of Play Therapy Magazine.  

Two New Poetry Books By David A. Crenshaw (click on titles for details)       The Vision of the Heart  and A Place of Healing and Hope

Books below are available in paperback at 20% discount. To order click on the book images below or simply call 1-800-462-6420.  Code # 4W9CAPBK.  If you want to read reviews first, click on book title under the book image.

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy: Wounded Spirits and Healing Paths,

Therapeutic Engagement of Children and Adolescents

Understanding and Treating the Aggression of Children: Fawns in Gorilla Suits

Understanding and Treating Aggressive Children: Fawns in Gorilla Suits

Handbook of Play Therapy with Aggressive Children


Evocative Strategies in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

Presentations- Including Upcoming
Testimonials from Presentations
Dr. Crenshaw's Publications
DVD on Grief
...Heart Symbol Strategies
...Heartfelt Feelings Coloring Card Kit
...Party Hats on Monsters
...Anger Modulation Drawings
...The Ship Prepares for Voyage
...The Magic Key
...The Fair Trial
...The Tree at the Top of the Hill
...Falling Leaves
...Holiday Writing Exercises
...Three Doors
Articles for Parents and Teachers
Article: Empathic Healer
Article: The Fawns beneath the Gorilla Suits
Article: The Hidden Dimensions
Article: Sounds of Children's Silence
Article: Windows to the Child�s Soul
Article: Selective Mutism
Article: Sealing off the Fountain
Article: by Liana Lowenstein, MSW
Article: Rosie the Golden Retriever
Poetry... Musings of the Soul
...Multicultural Language of Healing a Child
...Poetry Book-The Vision of the Heart
...Poetry Book-A Place of Healing and Hope
Tribute to Survivors of Domestic Violence
"My Wish for Children"
YouTube Videos
About Dr. Crenshaw

Mailing Address

David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP 205 Dogwood Court Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Phone:  (845) 489-8661

Click to e-mail

Please note e-mail is not confidential so do not e-mail private information (such as about patients).


Please send us your contact information (and any changes) and special interests so we can let you know about future training programs and publications. This information will not be disclosed, disseminated, or used by others.


Enter e-mail address in box, then click on "E-mail a colleague," and sign your message.

Copyright � 2004-2015 by David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP. All rights reserved.

Understanding and Treating Aggressive Children: Fawns in Gorilla Suits

by Dr. David Crenshaw and Dr. John Mordock

published by Jason Aronson

Links to order book are at bottom of page.

Understanding and Treating the Aggression of Children: Fawns in Gorilla Suits provides a thorough review of theoretical and research findings that provide a sound theoretical and empirical basis to the techniques and interventions detailed in the Handbook of Play Therapy with Aggressive Children. The breadth of coverage in this book reflects the immense clinical experience of the two authors with aggressive and sometimes violent children. This is not a dry and sterile academic review but rather one that comes from work directly in the therapy room with thousands of deeply hurting and in many cases traumatized children. One cannot read this book without being deeply moved and touched by the depth of pain of these children and yet also be buoyed by their courage and willingness to persevere against incredible odds and formidable barriers. The metaphor of the fawn in a gorilla suit is introduced, followed by chapters covering developmental failures and invisible wounds, profound and unacknowledged losses, the implication of new findings from neuroscience for treatment, psychodynamics of aggressive children, risk factors when treating the traumatized child, special considerations when treating children in foster care, strengthening relationships with parents and helping them be more effective, strengthening relationships with direct care and instructional staff, developing mature defenses, and coping skills, creating a therapeutic milieu for traumatized children, fostering hope and resilience. This unique book that addresses in depth more of the issues of concern to practicing clinicians concludes with a review of past and present prevention and intervention services and some suggested modifications.

Table of Contents

    • Fawns in Gorilla Suits
    • Developmental Failures and Invisible Wounds
    • Profound and Unacknowledged Losses
    • New Findings from Neuroscience: Implications for Treatment
    • The Psychodynamics of Gorilla Suit Wearers
    • Risk Factors When Treating the Traumatized Child
    • Some Special Considerations When Treating Children in Foster Care
    • Strengthening Relationships With Parents: Identifying the Parent's Struggles
    • Strengthening Relationships with Parents: Helping Parents to be More Effective
    • Strengthening Relationships with Direct Care and Instructional Staff
    • Developing Mature Defenses and Calming Skills
    • Creating a Therapeutic Milieu For Traumatized Children
    • Fostering Hope and Resilience
    • Past and Present Prevention and Intervention Services and Some Suggested Modifications


"The book�s many strengths begin with the authors. Their combined experience includes authorship and/or editorship of at least 15 books. The flow of the book and their engaging style amply convey the benefits of such experience. Also, together the authors have decades of therapy experience with emotionally disturbed children and their families. They use vignettes and case examples from these experiences to present and illustrate their conceptual model."

"The book provides clear guidelines for therapists. Two examples include the delineation of 18 principles of helping parents in therapy (e.g., emphasize collaboration, avoid initiating family interactions that create additional conflict, reduce parental self-blame, set realistic goals) and 10 basic needs of children for emotional growth (e.g., need for dependable relationships that promote nurturance and acceptance, need to be protected from situations that may cause fear, need to avoid experiences that involve loss of face, need for clear, consistent, and well defined limits). The authors also discuss requirements for providing therapy (e.g., emotional strength, stamina) and cautions about treatment sessions (e.g., overidentification with the child). Therapists beginning treatment with children are invariably looking for guidelines on how to handle the interactions, respond to family issues and crises, and understand the basic structure and flow of treatment. There is much to be gained from the authors� experience to guide therapists."

"The book is well written, engaging, and a mix of anecdotes, cases, and therapist material (dialogue, caveats). The authors provide a psychodynamic understanding of children exposed to trauma, untoward parenting, and multiple life events. Clinicians in contact with these children will recognize the endless stream of tragic stories and difficulties in and importance of helping. Also, there are many helpful principles to guide facets of therapy, contacts with parents, and needs of children."

"This book is rich in implied hypotheses, based on years of clinical experience, that no review of a body of empirical literature would provide. For example, we are told that for such children as those described in this book, 'love and hate are intensified' (p. 85), that �material things become equated with love� (p. 86), and that children in foster care move through '4 stages'�protest, despair, denial, and apathy (p. 80). Many such statements might be challenged, but it would be better to test these directly. Uniting the voices of clinical experience with the methods of science is the unicorn of psychotherapy. I thought I saw this unicorn once�just briefly�but my advisor kept shaking my shoulders, saying, 'Wake up, wake up�your dissertation orals begin in two minutes.

Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D., President of the American Psychological Association (2008); Director and Chairman of the Child Study Center at the Yale University School of Medicine and John M. Musser Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry;  Director of the Parenting Center & Child Conduct Clinic, an outpatient treatment service for children referred for aggressive and antisocial behavior and their families; and noted researcher.  For a longer review by Dr. Kazdin, see PsycCritiques: Contemporary Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, July 27, 2005, Vol. 50, #30, Article #1.

"Therapists are seeing an increasing number of children who present with issues of aggression and violence, some as young as 3 and 4.  This is a much-needed book that is dedicated to the issues that these children raise and presents the very real struggles of these 'fawns in gorilla suits.'  The authors have found that far too many of these children come from poverty backgrounds and they daily witness parental as well as community dysfunctions � ranging from alcohol and drug problems, domestic violence and violence seen on their neighborhood streets.  This book, then, emphasizes the need for systemic interventions that range from the child, to the parents, the schools, and the community.   

Since a great number of these children are found in foster care and/or residential treatment centers, the book provides anecdotal examples from both authors vast experience with these often 'given-up-on' children.  It presents many techniques that have proven invaluable in their work and addresses the issues of working with families (natural, foster, adoptive), childcare staff and teachers.  This book goes on to suggest ways that public schools could incorporate some of these methods because many such children are also found in the public sector.  There are also helpful hints for the therapist to avoid 'burn-out' when treating such traumatized children.  The book concludes with a very complete reference section that contains all of the past and present research that applies to these unfortunate children.   

I am honored to have been invited to review this book and can only give it the highest possible rating for scholarship, integrity and innovative techniques."

Lois Carey, LCSW, RPT-S, Past President, New York Association for Play Therapy

"This first of two volumes is a comprehensive A to Z guide for clinicians who work with aggressive and violent children. It covers a wealth of information from understanding the underlying causes through developmental failures and recent findings from neuroscience, along with psychodynamic formulations on through to special considerations to treatment and working with parents. The authors close with a chapter on fostering hope and resilience which gives us all hope in working with such a difficult population. This book makes an important contribution to the field of child therapy and needs to be included in professional and personal libraries."

Athena A. Drewes, Psy.D., RPT-S, Director of Clinical Training, The Astor Home for Children, and APT Board of Director

"Crenshaw and Mordock's new work, Understanding and Treating Aggressive Children: Fawns in Gorilla Suits, is a splendid and important addition to the clinical literature in this vital, yet relatively neglected domain of child therapy. Its excellence lies in its lucid and concise description of the ingredients that go into the 'creation' of such children and its forthright yet subtle ideas as to how best treat them. It beautifully depicts how the insidious 'unholy trinity' of loss, voicelessness, and shame combine to create the 'fawn-like' underlying personality structure of these children. It goes on to address the essential roles of the impact on the therapist of working with these children; the need and methods for how to work with the parents; the way to address these children's inadequate defensive structures; the importance of millieu therapy in working with the most extreme of these children; the interplay of developmental/psychodynamic forces with the child's neuro-physiology and, crucially the attempts to revive a viable sense of hopefulness in these children as the beginning step to better and more secure attachments and empathy.  This book should be in the library of any child clinician working with seriously troubled youngsters-----it is engagingly written, compellingly astute and unstintingly helpful in its approach. It has my complete respect." 

Steven Tuber, Ph.D., ABPP, Professor of Psychology and Former Director, Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, City University of New York at City College.

To Order

To Order from the publisher at 20% discount, click here

When checking out shopping cart, enter this code below credit card information: 4W9CAPBK

or if you prefer placing a phone order, call 1-800-462-6420 and provide the same code.