30 Slices
Medium 9780946439973

7. Psychological Assessment

Mary Boston and Rolene Szur, Editors Karnac Books ePub

Eva Holmes

Psychologists do not often assess children in care unless a court report is needed or a child is admitted to an assessment centre, often after a family crisis or a foster breakdown. The observations in this chapter, however, are based on the unusual experience of being the educational psychologist attached to several children’s homes in a London borough. I was asked to see children in long-term residential care who presented chronic learning difficulties, and young children with serious behaviour difficulties for whom decisions about fostering or rehabilitation had to be made, as well as a number of older children whose problems appeared to increase at adolescence.

The low self-esteem of these children has been described already. What became evident was that teachers, care staff and social workers often shared these low expectations of the children and this seemed to account for their failure to refer them for any kind of special help. It was taken for granted that all children in care would have learning difficulties and poor school reports. The possibility of remedial help was rarely considered, sometimes because of a mistaken concern not to label a child still more, sometimes because of uncertainty about the future. Perhaps previous psychologists had stated the obvious: he is disturbed and under functioning because of his disturbed background. To avoid this trap I tried to ensure that my observations and the results of testing contributed in follow-up discussions with care staff to a more detailed understanding of how a child was feeling as well as why he might be failing. I also made every effort to ensure that the assessment resulted, where appropriate, in the implementation of remedial help, psychotherapy, special schooling or a reconsideration of long-term plans. At the very least, a meeting of teachers, care staff and social workers took place, often for the first time. In short, I saw the role of the educational psychologist as more interventionist than just offering advice in reports. In the case of the very young children I assessed, this led eventually to the setting up of a special education unit described more fully elsewhere (Holmes 1980).

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439973

2. Falling and Being Dropped

Mary Boston and Rolene Szur, Editors Karnac Books ePub

When Lesley was 4 years old her mother died suddenly and in very tragic circumstances.

Like so many of the children in our group of patients she had never known her father. During her early years she had often been taken into a children’s home when her young mother felt unable to meet the needs of a small baby, coming herself from a family where members had been in and out of care at various periods. There was also suspicion of physical abuse from a man who was living with them. After her mother’s death Lesley was placed with foster-parents but this broke down, partly at least because of her own difficult behaviour, and it was not long before she was returned to the children’s home. There the staff felt very concerned about her because of her tragic experiences and also because of a certain cold, ‘unnatural’ quality in her relationships. The school and educational psychologist noted her ‘too good’ and excessively self-reliant and controlled behaviour. Following consultation and psychological assessment (see chapter 7), she was referred for psychotherapy with the hope that this would help her to come to terms with her experiences and eventually enable her to be successfully fostered.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439973

10. The Transition from an Institution to a Family

Mary Boston and Rolene Szur, Editors Karnac Books ePub

Rolene Szur

Most of the children who have been described were living in small children’s homes when they began attending for psychotherapy and most of them showed considerable improvements in behaviour which could be linked to the sometimes stormy course of the work with them. In some instances therapy seemed to have helped in preventing a threatened breakdown of fostering, as was the case with Katy. In a number of others improvement occurring during the course of psychotherapy proved to be a crucial factor in enabling the child either to move into foster-care, or, as in the case of Tom, to return to his own family.

Increasingly at the present time there is a trend away from children’s homes and institutional care, and towards looking for fostering placements or, more hopefully, for adoption. The skills of social workers and others in finding suitable families to match the needs of individual children will play an essential part in this process. Even with the best arrangements, however, the family and the child may need help in adapting to one another and in establishing bonds of feeling and understanding which can provide a basis for healthy growth on both sides (see Chapters 13 and 14).

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439430

CHAPTER FOUR Child Psychotherapy in a Day Unit

Mary Boston Karnac Books ePub

by Dilys Daws

Chapter 3 described how the child guidance clinic is organized and how the child psychotherapist functions in that setting. This chapter describes the practice of psychotherapy in a day unit, where children spend the whole day in the building in which they receive therapy. The effects of the setting on the children are discussed, and something of the meaning of the framework in which therapy takes place emerges. M.B., D.D.

I work as a child psychotherapist in a day unit connected with a child guidance clinic. As in the clinic itself, the therapeutic staff of the Unit is a team comprising a psychiatrist, a psychiatric social worker, an educational psychologist and a child psychotherapist. In my Unit they all work part-time, and the staff also consists of three teachers, employed by the I.L.E.A., together with three assistants who are employed by the Health Service. Finally, there is a full-time secretary, a caretaker and a cook, all of whom are also employees of the Health Service.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439973

8. ‘I’m Bad, No Good, Can’t Think’

Mary Boston and Rolene Szur, Editors Karnac Books ePub

The statement which provides a title for this chapter was made by a child in care. I am going to describe some work with him which I think illustrates the first steps in the long struggle to come to terms with pain and loss - a task which faces all the children referred to in this book. Central to this struggle seems to be the transformation of pain from something which has the character of an overwhelming physical attack into something which can be carried in the mind as experience.

Ian Haines was 9 years old and had been in the care of the local authority for five years when he began once-weekly psychotherapy. He was an attractive boy with a thatch of fair hair but his face had something tense, sharp and hard about it. The difficulties of his life so far seemed to have left their mark.

When Ian was eighteen months he and his mother had left his father to live with another man, a Mr Haynes (spelt with a fyf)-After a few years this new family, including a baby sister, Tracey,, broke up and the children were taken into care. Ian has remained in the same children’s home for most of the time and was not considered suitable for fostering or adoption whereas Tracey is now settled with a family. * Erratic visits from his parents, who are involved in drug addiction and petty crime, are a source of additional pain and confusion, and his contact with Tracey is occasional and not close.

See All Chapters

See All Slices