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14. Fieldwork: First Visit to a Foster Family Brian

Mary Boston and Rolene Szur, Editors Karnac Books ePub

Brian Truckle

One important aspect of the complex roles of the social worker when working with children is the quality of relationship which he is able to offer a child client. How to get to know and understand the child is often a worrying preoccupation, especially as major decisions have often to be made on his behalf. Hoxter (1977) suggests that with any psychotherapeutic contact with a child the first step is for the worker to have a ‘space’ in his mind for this particular person, freed from the worker:s own preoccupations and prejudices, from the weighty luggage of worries about the last client or the next case conference.

Many professionals in contact with deprived or distressed children have frequent opportunities to offer a child this ‘mental space’ and the experience of being attended to, remembered and valued. At this point the child may feel safe enough to bring his own worries and concerns to the worker in both verbal and non-verbal ways.

An opportunity to do just this is illustrated by the following description of a visit arranged to introduce myself (then a social worker in an area team) to a foster-mother and two children. The previous social worker, Mrs Quest, who was moving, accompanied me on this first occasion to meet the family. Gary, one of the two fostered children, was home from boarding school. The other child, Lucy, who was out visiting a friend when I arrived, had made good progress with these foster-parents.

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CHAPTER TWELVE Freud and Child Psychotherapy

Mary Boston Karnac Books ePub

by A. C. Reeves

The scene turns now to the beginnings from which child psychotherapy developed, in particular to the work of Freud. We learn how Freud’s thinking led him to the idea of unconscious conflict. A summary then follows of those aspects of Freud’s theories which are especially relevant to the understanding of this book.

The contributions of the pioneer child analysts, Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, are discussed, showing how each developed and applied Freud’s ideas to work with children in somewhat different ways. Mention is also made of some more recent developments in child psychiatry and child psycho therapy by other well-known workers. M.B., D.D.

The previous chapters have already described practical applications of the analytic techniques of child psychotherapy in various settings. Inevitably, the reader will have noticed instances of the therapist’s intervention by word or act, whose ultimate justification depended on a framework of knowledge beyond the issues presented by the particular case. So we must consider the question - what body of theory supports the practice of analytic child psychotherapy, and how did its principles become established?

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6. Technical Problems in Therapy Mary

Mary Boston and Rolene Szur, Editors Karnac Books ePub

Mary Boston

Many of these severely disturbed children present particular problems of technique and management in the course of psychotherapy. Tom, Keith and Desmond showed aggression and cruelty which was difficult to control and to contain. All the children, at times, some in more subtle ways than others, made their therapists feel useless, helpless, rejected, abandoned, messed up or cruelly treated -precisely the experiences and feelings which the patients themselves found intolerable or hard to bear.

This reversal of the painful experience seems very important in trying to understand children who do not find it easy to communicate in words. Their behaviour itself is often the vital message. It is our task to receive and respond appropriately. We may have little to go on apart from the feelings we experience ourselves.

Susie, a little girl of 4, who had been taken into care by the police very abruptly, in the middle of the night, because of sexual abuse by her father, was cutting out a pattern in a piece of paper. Her therapist described the scene thus:

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13. Thinking Together about Children in Care

Mary Boston and Rolene Szur, Editors Karnac Books ePub

Joan Hutten

When children have two parents it is possible and usual for them to combine their separate perspectives when thinking about current management or future planning in a complementary way. ‘Two heads are better than one’ is folk wisdom that probably derives from a parental model. When children are in care or under supervision orders, the two heads can quickly become legion: lengthy hierarchies of field and residential social work, the courts, schools, clinics all have their caring perspectives, their specific experience of a child and their anxieties about which responsibilities they must be accountable for. To add to the confusion, liberal ideas about children’s rights to participate in decisions about themselves can, in some cases, be applied without discrimination as a way of avoiding adult responsibility.

During the last ten years I have worked with a large number of caring networks over periods ranging from six months to seven years, to help in preparing and sustaining appropriate plans for treatment or placement (and a cliff-hanging process this has seemed at times). Referrals have come from a number of London boroughs and from the home counties. All of these have a very high percentage of qualified staff compared with the national average, and expect to provide a high standard and imaginative range of service and care.

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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.

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