Therapeutic Solutions to Children Experiencing Domestic Violence, Capstone Project Example
Words: 3297Capstone Project
Domestic violence refers to the violence committed by a person in the domestic circle of the victim. People who abuse others may include partners, ex-partners, immediate family members, other relatives, or even family friends. Domestic violence is used since the offender and the victim is closely related, and there is usually a difference in the power gap between them. In most cases, the victim is generally dependent on the offender. Domestic violence may happen in the form of physical abuse, sexual and even psychological abuse (Government of Netherlands, 2022).
Women and children are usually the main victims of domestic violence most of the time. However, men and the elderly can also be victims of domestic violence. Therefore, this form of violence usually happens at all levels of society in all population groups. At times, abuse is deliberate, but this is not always the case (Government of Netherlands, 2022). For instance, people may no longer be able to take care of their relatives, which may escalate the situation, thus resulting in abuse. Therefore, this paper shall be an argumentative paper that views the Therapeutic solution provided to children who experience domestic violence by physicians, counselors, psychologists, sociologists, and social workers.
From the physicians’ point of view, when there is early identification of child abuse, it is possible to prevent its occurrence in the future, stop it, and keep the child safe. According to Mayo Clinic (2022), the children and parents in the abuse situations can be treated with the priority being given to the children who have been abused where they are ensured of their safety and protection.
Treatment is offered to prevent children from future abuse, and the long-term psychological and physical consequences of abuse are reduced. First, it is necessary to help the child seek medical care and attention if they have signs of injuries or a change in consciousness. Follow-up care must be done with the doctor or with the health care provider (Intermountain Health Care, 2022). More so, a child needs to meet a psychologist so that they can do psychotherapy with the child. This will be useful in assessing the mental health of a child to help the child to learn how to trust again, teach a child how to behave normally in any relationship as well as teaching a child to how to manage conflicts as well as boost their self-esteem (Intermountain Health Care, 2022).
From the counselors’ point of view, it is important first to help the children recover from domestic violence. The counselors say that the child’s safety and well-being should come first before anything else. Before providing any other intervention to the children who have experienced violence, they should first consider their safety and put them in a place where they are safe. They are supposed to create a safety plan with the abuse victims, such as the mother and the children (Bray, 2014). For example, the safety plan can include keeping an extra house key and a different set of clothes to change in the car if their partners kick them out.
Counselors should tread gently with these abuse victims because they have already been traumatized, and discussions regarding the abusive situations can lead to the triggering of PTSD-like symptoms (Bray, 2014). The counselors say that it is important to talk through the emotions of the children; they should use trauma-informed care and allow the children and their mothers, who are referred to as the clients, to control the pace of therapy. Additionally, they should not judge the children and their mothers to get an impression that it is their fault for not coming out of the abusive environment. They should let the abuse victims talk about the situation when they are ready to do it.
Counselors should assess the victims by asking questions that are more specific to the behavior of the abusers. These questions may include, does your partner call you names? Who makes decisions in the family? Is there a time when you were injured in a fight with your partner? According to the counselors, it is important to take a holistic approach toward giving solutions to the victims of violence. This is because all the areas of their personal lives have been affected by abuse. These include physical and mental health, parenting, housing, and finances (Bray, 2014). Therefore, the counselors should talk through with the victims to discuss the goal that they have in their lives. They need first to restore the sense of self-worth to the person. They should help these victims, especially the mothers, learn coping mechanisms so that they can deal with co-parenting their children with an abusive ex-spouse.
The sociologist says that those children who experience domestic violence from their parents are impacted, and they come up with creative ways of coping with the experiences. From this research, a group-based therapeutic intervention to support the children was considered appropriate to build on their existing strengths and cope with the situation. This intervention is useful in helping young people develop a positive sense of themselves and recover from the impacts of domestic violence (Callaghan, 2015). For instance, these children come up with a way of managing their communication on what they are supposed to say. They decide the person to whom they should speak their issues which is a powerful coping strategy that enables them to establish a strong sense of being in control of their own life stories. It enables these children to feel that they can be in a position to protect themselves and their families as they can make conscious decisions regarding who they should tell, how, and when to tell it out (Callaghan, 2015).
However, this strategy leads to various challenges for professionals who want to support children who have experienced domestic violence. This is because the child may over-rehearse their stories and craft them so that they can protect themselves and their family and avoid unwanted service intervention. These children have learned to tell stories that are not genuine and the ones that the adults want to hear.
According to Psychologists, Domestic violence affects the mother and their young children. Therefore, an Education Psychology Service was used to develop a therapeutic group work that would promote positive mother-child relationships to enhance their psychological well-being. Child-parent psychotherapy is a type of therapy that helps improve the relationship between the parent and the child to build a stronger attachment between them. Psychotherapy is also helpful to the parents to identify the roots of abuse, help them learn effective ways of coping with the inevitable frustrations in life, and help them understand the healthy parenting strategies (Intermountain Health Care 2022).
On the other hand, social workers argue that children and mothers who have gone through domestic violence experience a range of outcomes, and therefore, it is important to support and treat them by addressing their individual needs. According to McWhirter (2008), the interventions provided should give the children the space to gain understanding and the perspective of the event. The children should understand the safety issues that they need to take. They should be in a position to identify safe people and how they should address them and help them master the confidence in themselves and the environment around them.
According to the social workers, the main goals of the interventions are to enhance the children’s coping skills, improve their communication skills, and explore conflict resolution and the skills they can use in solving problems. It is also useful in helping them express their feelings and make changes in their maladaptive behavior. But social worker McWhirter P. also came up with different activities that can help the children and their mothers cope with the effects of domestic violence.
I have found that the social workers’ argument makes more sense than the others. This is because the article “Therapeutic interventions for children who have witnessed” by McWhirter, P. T., the social worker, makes more sense. It was written in 2008, and the therapeutic activities suggested in the article have been derived and written after carrying out an extensive literature review and modifying them so that they can be used for intervention purposes. These activities include group therapy, activities involving joint work from the parents and the children, and reasonable child care, considerations, and transportation (McWhirter, 2008). These activities are as discussed below.
According to Graham-Bermann et al. (2007), using group formats is useful since it allows interventions on different levels, including psychological, educational, and social perspectives. Moreso, when people have time to work together, it enhances a positive change in the family interactions.
Working Jointly: Children with Parents
Working with the parents produces strong long-term outcomes when working toward children’s interventions. Those women who do not care for themselves are usually drawn into this program so that they can help their children. This program helps them undergo the transitions. Since it is an after-school program, children can benefit from it and their parents (Graham-Bermann et al., 2007).
When the location for the group meeting is within the community, it reduces the transportation barriers for the parents and their children. Moreso, it increases the confidence and trust among the community members since there will be an association with other community services such as housing and assisted daycare services that the families are using. This is also useful in promoting the participation of other women living in the proximity since there is increased trust among them (McWhirter, 2008).
For the two hours where women and their older children will be having group sessions, it is essential to consider taking their children who are five years and less to assisted daycare to reduce the barrier to having a good interactions time.
Research has been one on the therapy groups that involve mothers. The therapeutic grout ha provides support to the children meet simultaneously with the mother’s therapy group, where they later come together to have a collective experience as a family (McWhirter, 2006). A joint family group is essential as it continues the healing process from trauma and strengthens the family. Those children who are between 6 and 12 years are provided with;
- Interactions that are safe and appropriate so that they can promote the sense of honesty, trust, well-being, and safety of the children
- A safe environment that helps the child to feel secure when exploring as well as expressing themselves
- A warm and caring atmosphere that provides reparative experiences
The group’s content involves having a variety of therapeutic activities that involve a lot of fun while executing them. These activities include painting, coloring, drawing, drama, and role-play. The group’s primary focus is to improve conflict resolution in the family, cohesion, and healthy family management (McWhirter, 2008).
The groups focus on improving family conflict resolution, cohesion, and healthy family management. More emphasis is put on having healthy beliefs, bonding in the family, expressing their emotions, being aware of personal feelings, and building on the communication skills in the family (McWhirter, 2008).
Skill Building Components
These groups are designed to address the building of skills such as setting goals, ways of dealing with stress, improving communication skills, skills of overcoming peer pressure, and handling family and interpersonal conflict, among others.
Therapeutic Activities for Children and Their Mothers
Sample Gathering Activity: A Feelings Cartoon
The children must have writing utensils like pencils and others and a Cartoon Description Xeroxed. They are supposed to review their local newspaper and identify two visual characters interacting with each other in a complex way. The children have required Xerox the Cartoon to retain the conversation bubbles and remove the previous words. They are supposed to fill in the bubbles above each character, write a story about it, and color the picture.
Check-In and Sharing Activity
In this activity, children must share how they are feeling and explain their feelings. They are to mark their name in the Emotional Barometer to describe their feelings and give an explanation of the same. They are also supposed to view the barometer and draw a line on the figure representing their current emotional state. This activity is then shared among the children.
Other activities include the Sample Primary Activities like Action Emotion, adapted from Jones, 1998, to build cohesion and a sense of commitment to a group and the therapeutic changes they are experiencing. More so, this activity provides an opportunity for the people who are observing to note the parental interaction with their children
There is also a Relaxation Exercise where the mothers and their children must lie down together. The mother is supposed to close her eyes and say a script to their child. This activity helps compare the previous feelings and the current ones. The mother and the child are shown how they can use this technique to relax on their own.
This activity is meant to help them talk about when they felt agitated in their environment. The children and their mothers are encouraged to identify those actions committed by other people which cause tension in their bodies. Inactivity, they share some of the examples. They are empowered to recognize that they are not responsible for other people’s actions, and they need to respond to these situations with safety, awareness, and self-care (McWhirter, 2008, March).
It has become widespread for many children to be exposed to domestic violence (CEDV). Other interventions that have been adopted for these children include;
Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP):
This is an intervention for CEDV as well as other trauma. The core reason for this intervention is to help children who have been exposed to violence, and it works with non-offending parents. In most cases, the non-offending parent is the mother, and the children in focus here are the ones who are five years of age or less (Chamberlain, 2014).
The intervention is delivered weekly by having joint sessions for both the parent and their child where there are interactions between them that are guided and free play of the child. These sessions are designed to change the maladaptive behaviors between the mothers and their children (Chamberlain, 2014). They are also helpful in supporting the appropriate interaction between the child and the mother in their understanding of each other, as well as helping and guiding them to work through the trauma that they have faced
There are 12 to 40 sessions that a therapist delivers in this intervention. The intervention has also emphasized cultural competence since people differ regarding cultural values, beliefs, parenting, and gender roles (Chamberlain, 2014).
By the end of the 50 sessions, which add up to one year of treatment, those children who have undergone CPP have fewer problems with their behavior, the symptoms of traumatic stress have decreased, and they are not diagnosed with symptoms of traumatic stress. Also, mothers who have received CPP show fewer posttraumatic stress avoidance symptoms and less severe psychiatric symptoms after six months of ending the treatment (CEBC, 2022).
Kids’ Club and Moms Empowerment
This intervention is provided to children exposed to violence and is mainly available in the US and other parts of the world. This intervention program usually works with children five years to 13 years and empowers their mothers. This program takes ten weeks and is delivered by the mental health service providers. Conclusion: there is a combination of the parent groups that mainly address the techniques of parenting and the children groups that deal with the development of the social skills (Chamberlain, 2014).
The program dealing with parenting helps in supporting and empowering mothers so that they can discuss the impacts of violence on the development of their children. It is also helpful in building parenting competence, providing a safe place where they can discuss their fears in parenting, and building social connections in the supportive group. The children’s group is used to create a safe place for children where they can develop their trust again. The children are assisted in understanding how to express their emotions regarding their personal experiences and are taught basic social, emotional, and coping skills (Promising Future Without Violence, 2022).
The two forms of interventions used in the program include CM (Child-Plus-Mother) and CO (Child Only). In the CM Programme, there was a reduction in the percentage of those children in the clinical range from the baseline to the ones in the post-treatment compared to CO. These children showed an improvement in greater levels of violence-related attitudes. They were also able to improve externalizing their behavior problems (Chamberlain, 2014). However, at the end of the eight weeks, the condition of the Children in the CO had deteriorated. Moreso, children, were able to disclose domestic violence in the group intervention since they could internalize the behavioral adjustment problems and change their attitudes and beliefs regarding violence acceptability (Promising Future Without Violence, 2022).
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
This is another therapeutic intervention that focuses on reducing the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder among children and parents. In this intervention, there are individual sessions for children from 3 to 18 years, individual sessions with the parents, and joint sessions for both the children and their parents (Chamberlain, 2014).
This intervention is translated into many languages and is delivered in the settings like homes, schools, and even residential care. The intervention has 16 sessions maximum and 12 sessions minimum. It has also been shortened for those mothers and children residing at the violence shelters. Revisions are also made on the interventions to focus on the safety of the children in the ongoing danger. The children’s related PTSD was improved when a brief intervention was used compared to children’s therapy (Chamberlain, 2014).
In conclusion, the project supports another intervention that can be used to work with the children and the mothers who have experienced domestic violence. This is where children between 4-and nine years are considered, and they should meet the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorder. Therapists usually visit the homes every week.
They help the mothers with skills that they can use in solving problems and train them on how to manage and nurture their children so that their relations can be improved, thus reducing the conduct problems among their children. This intervention usually takes six months and has, on average, 20 home visits.
The main purpose of the interventions listed above is to allow the children to develop skills to cope with their situation. Moreso, the children will be able to develop their communication skills so that they will be able to air the issues affecting their lives and be trained on how to resolve conflicts whenever they arise in their environment.
Callaghan, J.E.M. and Alexander, J.H. (2015) Understanding Agency and Resistance Strategies (UNARS): Children’s Experiences of Domestic Violence. Northampton, UK: University of Northampton.
Chamberlain, L. (2014). A comprehensive review of interventions for children exposed to domestic violence.
Bray B. (2014). Working through the hurt. https://ct.counseling.org/2014/03/working-through-the-hurt/#
CEBC (2022). Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) https://www.cebc4cw.org/program/child-parent-psychotherapy/detailed
Promising Future Without Violence (2022). Kids Club and Moms Empowerment. http://promising.futureswithoutviolence.org/?program=kids-club-and-moms-empowerment
Government of Netherlands (2022). What is domestic violence? https://www.government.nl/topics/domestic-violence/what-is-domestic-violence
Mayo Clinic (2022). Child abuse. Diagnosis.
Intermountain Health Care (2022). Child Abuse and Neglect Treatment https://intermountainhealthcare.org/services/pediatrics/services/child-protection-and-family-health/child-abuse-and-neglect-treatment/
McWhirter, P. T. (2008). Therapeutic interventions for children who have witnessed domestic violence. In G. R. Walz, J. C. Bleuer, & R. K. Yep (Eds.), Compelling counseling interventions: Celebrating VISTAS’ fifth anniversary (pp. 31-38). Ann Arbor,
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McWhirter, P. T. (2008, March). Participatory action research evaluation of a collaborative child and family violence prevention and intervention. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Counseling Association, Honolulu, HI.
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