Therapeutic Activities for Children and Teens Coping with Health Issues

Therapeutic Activities for Children and Teens Coping with Health Issues

Therapeutic Activities for Children and Teens Coping with Health Issues

Therapeutic Activities for Children and Teens Coping with Health Issues

Excerpt

Hospitalization and other healthcare experiences can be difficult for children, both physically and emotionally. Fortunately, accompanying these changes is a growing body of knowledge of therapeutic interventions that caring adults can use to help children cope more effectively with these experiences.

The purpose of this introduction is not to review children’s healthcare literature in depth, but to describe the major issues that form the theoretical framework for the activities in this book. Tips for working with special populations also are included, to assist the reader in using the activities in a variety of settings. Please note that throughout the book the term children is used to include children and adolescents, unless otherwise specified.

Today, a child’s encounter with the healthcare system can take many forms. Some experiences, such as a scheduled well-child visit to the doctor’s office for immunizations, are planned; others, such as an unexpected trip to the emergency department for an injury incurred on the football field, are not. Encounters may be short and time-limited, such as those required to deal with the acute demands of a case of the flu or appendicitis; others, such as those associated with heart disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or cerebral palsy, typically demand a lifetime of frequent and often lengthy contact with the healthcare system.

Some children who are ill or injured are likely to experience several phases of care, which vary from child to child depending on diagnosis and individual needs. The progression through these phases is called the continuum of care (Olson, 1999). Children may enter the continuum at different points, and will not necessarily experience all phases of care. Each phase has its own set of stressors and psychosocial considerations (see Table I.1). Also, considerations within the phases themselves influence children’s responses. For example, a child’s admission to an acute care setting could be emergent or planned; family members may be accommodated (e.g., a bed for a parent at child’s bedside) or not.

These situational factors need to be considered when predicting the specific stressors and the impact of the healthcare experience on each child. However, other considerations play an equally important role.

Children’s Understanding of Illness

The meaning children assign to . . .

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