The Story of Aquarium
Today’s youth is suffering from an increase of mental health related problems such as anxiety, depression, identity confusion, relationship difficulties, eating disorders and addictions. In a fast-changing digital society, the growing child and their family are facing developmental challenges. Prevention is possible via an increased awareness about the inner emotional world and relational needs of today’s youth.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, alone or in combination with other treatment modalities, have long proven to be an effective treatment. The psychoanalytic approach to therapy elevates the inner emotional world of the child to the forefront of treatment.
Our society is in desperate need of a “new” old approach, which fosters a return to interiority, a healthier relationship to one’s body and the fundamental needs of children.
Our objectives are to place children’s welfare at the centre of our social and political decisions. In this light, the Aquarium Foundation strives to re-appropriate the importance of the inner emotional world and restore children as free subjects that have agency over themselves and society. We wish to promote future generations of children and young adults who can think critically, are resilient and who are emotionally prepared to face ongoing societal changes that threaten interiority.
The Aquarium Foundation’s first commitment is to make psychoanalytic treatment for children and young adults more accessible. Secondly, it intends to offer continuing education, supervision and support to mental health professionals and others who work with children and their families. Lastly, it also hopes to raise public awareness about the importance of the relational needs of children and the damage caused by the premature loss of childhood. This last part will be accomplished by working collaboratively with influential people in our community, and policy makers at various levels of government to promote the needs of children and the importance of the family unit.
The Aquarium Foundation dreams of a Social Psychoanalysis: It wishes to implement an «Aquarium Kid’s Club» in elementary schools where kids can gather to play freely. This is a place where kids can give expression to their inner selves and be fully listened to as children. We also dream of a high school «Aquarium Student’s Club» where adolescents can leave their smart phones behind and gather to share and reflect with discernment over their inner and outer worlds. This would be a space free from competition, which promotes diversity, shared responsibility and a caring for one another. Through these programs we hope to form future leaders who are both smart and have heart. All the major social revolutions were once the product of thoughtful adolescents, and the next one will be no exception.
Aquarium accepted the invitation in February 2020 to participate alongside politicians and university professors in a multidisciplinary panel discussion on Quebec Bill 21 (no longer allowing public workers to wear religious symbols) and contributed ideas pertaining to children, including effects on school teachers and freedom of expression in educational establishments.
The drama of our contemporary world is that children grow up too fast. «Aquarium» is a way to rethink childhood and the role of the parents. Children are not small fish competing and protected by bigger fish; they are rather like a fish in an aquarium. Both the parent and child engage in a mutual dependence and interdependence that gives each family its unique meaning.
There is also a need to acknowledge childhood as an experiential universe all on its own; an experience unmediated by social contingencies that will later fall on the growing child. Without a healthy aquarium, the child can not make connections with their inner reflective space, develop a strong sense of self, acquire critical thinking skills, engage in meaningful relationships or simply appreciate all the beauty in the world.
Childhood is the time when you can love absolutely, hate absolutely and play passionately, and do it all safely. The child should be able to depend on parents and the adult environment to be bigger than the child’s devouring needs, innate aggression or fervent imagination. Adults who never had their own «Aquarium» can feel overwhelmed by the task of parenting and run the risk of perpetuating the same scenario if not supported in their role.