What treatment elements are essential?


What treatment elements are essential

Active involvement of the non-abusing parent is crucial. One important factor of treatment is to strengthen the relationship between the victim and the child. Typically families need more than therapy; they need case management and advocacy for the victim. If perpetrators want to change, there are treatments and support groups that can benefit. In our Child Witness to Violence Project, we also work closely with courts, police officers, and Child Protective Services. What children need first and overall is safety. With older children we do safety planning. It could possibly be helping the child develop a plan for staying safe when his parents are fighting. This gives the child a sense of control so that he or she feels less vulnerable. Another key to the treatment is enabling the child or adolescent to talk about his or her experiences and make sense of them in the presence of a caring and neutral counselor. Normally, children will have what we call “cognitive distortions” about what’s happened or why it happened, leading to blaming themselves. A counselor will work with a child to correct these misconceptions. For many children, it’s very helpful to create a “trauma narrative,” in which he or she makes a complete account of what’s happened. Kids express a sense of relief just being able to share what happened with another adult who’s not competing for their loyalty. The events become less emotionally overwhelming to them.

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