Working with Traumatic Children Essay Example

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It is evident that children do respond to different environments genuinely and uniquely which is among the reasons that make working with them in the social practice field interesting. When children are subjected to traumatic experiences, they often suffer from a condition which is known as Children Traumatic Stress (CTS) or at times some get diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Bonanno, 2004). In this case, the focus of discussion and the selected group are the children who have been sexually abused. Sexual abuse is regarded as a sinister trauma type following the shame that is associated with it. Children who have been sexually abused are typically very young that are unaware of what is exactly being done to them or even seek for assistance (Terr, 1991). When these children are not accorded the proper treatment, they are then usually susceptible to acquiring a lifetime PTSD, anxiety, as well as depression (Terr, 1991). Additionally, since sexual abuse is typically associated with a lot of shame, most cultures suppress any information that is related to such acts. This is among the reasons why I chose to discuss how I would work with children who have been sexually abused. Another reason is that it is evident that children are very vulnerable to many life circumstances, and they are the ones who get affected the most by some of these experiences.

On the other hand, the framework that I have selected to utilize when working with sexually abused children who are undergoing trauma is the therapy-based framework. I have selected this structure because it has numerous approaches and distinct therapies under it and it also culturally-friendly to individuals from different cultures. This means that as a social worker, I can evaluate the particular therapeutic approach that is most appropriate to an individual child following the various approaches that fall under the therapy-based framework. Additionally, coming from a different cultural background which is China, and expected to work with children from another culture from mine, I find this approach most appropriate and friendly especially in a society where most people shun seeking assistance following sexual abuse.

Therapy-Based framework

A therapy-based framework is a treatment approach which has over time assisted children to overcome various difficulties that are related to trauma. This framework is designed and aimed at minimizing the negative behavioral and emotional impacts that are associated with being sexually abused (Dagan et al., 2015). This framework, as has been highlighted above also seeks to address the distorted attributions and beliefs which are related to children who have been sexually abused. At the same time, it offers a supportive environment where children get encouraged to share narratives about the traumatic experiences that they were subjected to which is a significant healing process from trauma (Dagan et al., 2015).

This therapy framework could be delivered to the sexually abused children from various theoretical perspectives. These theoretical perspectives may include the psychodynamic, interpersonal, humanistic, as well as cognitive (Goetter et al., 2015). Most social workers, as well as therapists, typically utilize this framework based on one or more of these guiding theories through various integrative approaches. Additionally, the aim of this therapy-based framework is to enhance the benefits of one or more of these approaches to ensure that these sexually abused children live a positive post-traumatic growth (Goetter et al., 2015). It is also critical to note that the framework entails utilized differently for children and adults which show the level of flexibility that it has hence made it even more efficient for this case.

In the case of dealing with children who have been sexually abused, when utilizing the therapy-based framework, it will be most productive to utilize an approach which is trauma-focused. Such an approach will either eliminate or minimize the symptoms which are particular to trauma like anxiety and PTSD (Dagan et al., 2015). Taking this into consideration is essential in that it will encourage the traumatized children to express their feelings which are abuse-related, diminish the isolation and stigma feelings, as well as clarify the negative and unhelpful beliefs that people hold regarding what they have been subjected to (Terr, 1991). Therefore, for this case, the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is an approach under the therapy-based framework will be utilized following the benefits and possible outcomes that are associated with it. Additionally, following the minimum period that it takes to assist one child and the safe environment that they are subjected to while at it, makes the CBT approach effective for this case.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

When utilizing this therapy-based framework, I intend to use the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach which falls under the framework when assisting these children who have been exposed to sexual abuse and trauma. Immediately these children are exposed to such traumatic events, the immediate and the long-term effects are that they are at significant risks of developing emotional and behavioral difficulties (Terr, 1991). Precisely, for example, these children may experience some levels of guilt following the role they played in the incident, powerlessness feelings, anger towards their caregivers, and high levels of fear among other negative feelings and emotions (Terr, 1991).

In the same light, CBT approach which falls under the therapy-based framework is a combination of various therapeutic elements and interventions including the cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and family therapy (Shipherd, 2006). Utilizing the cognitive therapy when working with these children will strive to change their behavior through addressing the perceptions and thoughts of the children regarding the traumatic event that happened to them (Shipherd, 2006). This will be particularly effective in those traumatic children who have the thinking patterns which establish unhelpful and distorted views. Behavioral therapy, on the other hand, will focus on the modification of the habitual responses of these traumatized children like those of fear and anger to some identified stimuli and environment (Shipherd, 2006). Finally, the family therapy will help me to assess the interaction patterns of these children among or with the members of their families so that I can help them to identify as well as alleviate the problems that may exist.

I will also utilize the CBT approach which falls under the therapy-based framework to develop some procedures of stress management which will be useful in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and fear which is the aftermath of the children who have been sexually abused. It is crucial to note that trauma which is associated with being sexually abused may result in PTSD and therefore, this approach and the related procedures to address the particular difficulties which have been exhibited by these children (Hensel et al., 2015). Addressing the parenting approaches will also be critical, and this aspect is also incorporated into the CBT therapeutic approach (Hensel et al., 2015). I will, therefore, also focus on guiding the parents and guardians of these sexually abused children on the way they can help to address the behavioral difficulties that their children are going through following the traumatic events that they have been exposed to.

The Components of the CBT Therapeutic Approach

This CBT approach will consist of between 15-18 sessions for each child with every session composed of 50-90 minutes. The period that each child will take will be dependent on the specific treatment needs of the child and the extent to which they were affected by being sexually abused. This treatment will also entail some sessions with the individual child together with their guardians separately as well as jointly. Each of these sessions will be designed in such a way that there is the establishment of a therapeutic relationship while at the same time providing a safe environment, skills, and education in which the child can address as well as process the traumatic memories. On the other hand, the joint sessions where the child and their guardian are engaged will be designed in such a way to assist both the children and their guardians utilize the skills that they learned to have a positive post-traumatic growth. The child will also manage to share their narrative which will be helpful in fostering effective communication between the child and their guardian regarding the sexual abuse as well as the related traumatic issues.

Effectiveness of the Therapy-Based Framework

The therapy-based framework is effective when assisting sexually abused children for various reasons. The primary goal of this process is to oversee the child experiencing a positive post-traumatic growth where they are able to deal with the trauma in a positive way. Therefore, this framework will be useful in that it will minimize the behavioral and emotional responses of the children following what they have been exposed to (Dagan et al., 2015). Also, as had been highlighted earlier, this framework is a useful tool in correcting the unhelpful and negative attributions and beliefs which are associated with the traumatic experience of being sexually abused (Goetter et al., 2015). The therapy-based framework will provide the necessary skills and support to assist the non-offending guardians in coping positively with their personal and children’s emotional stress following the traumatic experience that they have been exposed to (Goetter et al., 2015).

Impacts of Personal Beliefs, Values, Assumptions, and Knowledge

It is apparent that the way I would work with the children as a social worker will be guided by my personal beliefs, values, assumptions, and knowledge. It is important to note that I come from China and I have come to Australia to study Social Work. Therefore, if I am working with children with trauma who are from Australia and any other background that is different from mine, there would be some differences that would be seen there.

I have developed my knowledge and assumptions regarding trauma all through the entire process of learning about it as well as before my learning about it. Therefore, this knowledge will enable me first to be culturally competent whereby my personal beliefs and values will not get in the way of my providing professional assistance to these children (Joseph et al., 2014). One of the ways that I would oversee this is through the utilization of appropriate language which is very critical for there to be a successful work and process of assisting these victims (Joseph et al., 2014). I acknowledge that unless there is proficiency in the language use, and specifically choosing the language that is preferred by the children, then the process will likely be jeopardized.

Secondly, in a bid of becoming culturally competent in my services, I will need to be aware of the biases of my beliefs, values, and culture. I would also need to be aware of my knowledge biases in the process so that the process would be efficient and beneficial to the children (Joseph et al., 2014). Therefore, it would be essential for me to complete health and personal beliefs training as well as the cultural competence training which is tailored to the particular cultures that I am working in so that the children can safely identify with me and I can also identify with them as well (Joseph et al., 2014).

My beliefs, values, assumptions, and knowledge will also guide the way I work with the children with trauma in that I will strive to harness resilience through taking various protective factors into consideration (Harms, Louise & Talbot, 2007). As I acknowledge that that adversity and distress are at the core of my work, my chosen personal framework has explored the various sources of enhancing resilience to these children which will be beneficial to them despite the trauma and other life adversities that they may have been exposed to. One way of strengthening this resilience is through the implementation of the narrative approach (Harms, Louise & Talbot, 2007). Precisely, this will be informed by my beliefs, values, and assumptions that may have had regarding the subject. Through the implementation of the narrative approach, I would primarily focus on listening to the trauma narratives of the children. This may be likely to present me with the opportunity to identify not only the effect that the traumatic experiences have had on their lives but also the various protective factors that can be beneficial to enhance their resilience (Harms, Louise & Talbot, 2007).

My knowledge regarding the subject will guide the choice of the protective factors of their individual lives like the coping processes and unique healing, personal skills and strengths, value and belief systems, sources of hope and meaning, as well as the supportive relationships. Therefore, my knowledge of these factors has guided my framework in that it has assisted me in the identification of these underpinning protective factors in the life of the children which is an essential element in the process of building resilience in the lives which will need to extend all through the duration of implementing this framework (Amos et al., 2011).

On the other hand, the assumptions that I have regarding working with children with trauma will enable me to bring into clear awareness the various dimensions of the life of the children, for example, their spiritual, cultural, social and emotional aspects of their lives. This will then enable me as a professional to go beyond the typically foregrounded trauma experiences which will thereby assist in enriching the lives of the children’s personal lives narratives (Amos et al., 2011).

My knowledge, assumptions, values, and beliefs will also guide my framework in that it will assist me in the reduction of the perceived power differentials. Often, the children who have undergone various kinds of trauma have been robbed of their control of various aspects of their individual lives (Gomez, Carol & Yassen, 2007). Therefore, the power dynamics is evidently a barrier and a sensitive aspect when it comes to the successful trauma interventions of the children. In the process of reducing the power differentials, it would be first critical to understand my beliefs, values, and knowledge regarding the subject and at the same time respect the views of the children and their families regarding them being subjected to treatment (Gomez, Carol & Yassen, 2007). This will then enable me to reduce the power differentials through the development of an effective partnership between the children as well as their families and collaborate as much as possible to seek their active involvement in the entire process.

Finally, my knowledge of the subject will enable me to address some of the post-resettlement challenges which are related to discrimination which often entails dealing with the micro-aggressions that the child may be undergoing with the aim of enhancing the children’s mental health (Bonanno, 2004). It is evident that harassment and teasing which is related to the child’s religious, cultural, and ethnic identities is an experience that is quite common amongst the group of children who are experiencing trauma (Bonanno, 2004). My assumptions of the life difficulties that they are going through will enable me to evaluate and validate the hurt and pain that the child is going through so that I could assist them in the restoration of their self-esteem, self-efficacy, as well as that of societal belonging.


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Terr, Lenore C. (1991). Childhood traumas: an outline and overview. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 141(1): 10-13.