Social workers are trained to “start where the client is.” You have a responsibility to use language and interventions that are respectful of your client’s developmental and emotional level. But what if your client is a child? How can you start from the child’s point of reference? In this Assignment, you identify the play therapy strategies evident in the case of Elle (found in your Learning Resources). You also engage in self-reflection and discuss your level of comfort with providing play therapy. Review the “Case of Elle” from this week’s Learning Resources. By Day 7 Submit a 2- to 3-page paper addressing the following: Briefly summarize the key aspects of the case. Identify the direct and indirect play therapy strategies employed and explain how they differ. Discuss why you would or why you would not be comfortable providing play therapy—consider both direct and indirect approaches. Working With Children and Families: The Case of Elle I received a referral for a 6-year-old Puerto Rican female named Elle. The referral came from a local pediatrician. Elle was referred because the pediatrician noted that Elle was showing symptoms of depression, including weight loss, disinterest in typical activities, and general lethargy. The parents, Mark (age 37) and Pamela (age 34), reported no recent changes in the home situation and had no explanation for Elle’s behavioral and emotional changes. As part of the initial assessment, I met with Elle’s parents. I asked about the current situation at home, their relationship, and changes that may have occurred recently. None were identified. As part of my assessment, I questioned each parent about the work that they did, their schedules, and any recent work changes. Elle’s father reported no significant changes; her mother noted her return tosecond-shift work. In my first meeting with Elle, I explained my role as a person who helped children with things that bothered them. I introduced Elle to our sand tray and invited her to “play” as we talked. Over the next two weeks, Elle built a sand castle and told me that a small child lived in one of the rooms. She circled the room again and again with a soldier on a white horse. When I asked what the soldier was doing, she simply shrugged her shoulders and continued to circle the castle. During our time together, as Elle began to use the soldier on horseback to circle the child, I asked her to show me how the soldier might help the child that lived in the castle. She showed the soldier riding away. I asked how the soldier riding away helped the child. At that point, Elle shut down and went to play with other toys in the play © 2019 Laureate Education, Inc. 1 therapy room. I did not intervene. Elle spent the rest of the time playing with a zoo, telling me that the bear was missing. In the sixth session, I asked Elle about the child in the castle. “Is the child safe?” I asked. “No way!” Elle exclaimed. I asked her to show me how to help the child. After several stops and starts, Elle brought a brown horse with a female rider. The rider said, “Climb on, I will take you away.” The child climbed on, and the horse took them to the other end of the playroom. When I asked Elle to tell me what the child said to the rider on the brown horse as they were riding away, she said, “It’s a secret.” I told Elle that when children tell hard secrets, my job was to work hard to keep children safe. With eyes wide-open, Elle asked if I could keep the child from the castle safe. © 2019 Laureate Education, Inc. 2 Webb, N. B. (2019). Social work practice with children (4th ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press. Chapter 7, “Individual Play Therapy” Brezinka, V. (2014). Computer games supporting cognitive behaviour therapy in children. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 19(1), 100–110. doi: Davis, E. S., & Pereira, J. K. (2014). Child-centered play therapy: A creative approach to culturally competent counseling. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 9(2), 262–274. doi: Taylor, D. D., & Bratton, S. C. (2014). Developmentally appropriate practice: Adlerian play therapy with preschool children. The Journal of Individual Psychology, 70(3), 205–219.
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