Engaging Children in Family Therapy: Creative Approaches to Integrating Theory and Research in Clinical Practice

Engaging Children in Family Therapy: Creative Approaches to Integrating Theory and Research in Clinical Practice

Engaging Children in Family Therapy: Creative Approaches to Integrating Theory and Research in Clinical Practice

Engaging Children in Family Therapy: Creative Approaches to Integrating Theory and Research in Clinical Practice

Synopsis

A common question at the initial meeting of a family therapist and a new client(s) is often whether or not to include a child or children in the counseling sessions. The inclusion of a child in the family therapy process often changes the dynamic between client and therapist -- and between the clients themselves -- within the context of the counseling sessions. And yet, although this is such a common experience, many counselors and family therapists are not adequately equipped to advise parents on whether to include a child in therapy sessions. Once the child does make an appearance in the counseling session, the therapist is faced with the challenges inherent in caring for a child, in addition to many concerns due to the unique circumstance of the structured therapy. Counseling a child in the context of a family therapy session is a specific skill that has not received the attention that it deserves.

This book is intended as a guide for both novice and experienced counselors and family therapists, covering a wide range of topics and offering a large body of information on how to effectively counsel children and their families. It includes recent research on a number of topics including working with children in a family context, the exclusion of children from counseling, and counselor training methods and approaches, the effectiveness of filial play therapy, the effects of divorce on children, and ADHD. Theoretical discussion is given to different family therapy approaches including family play therapy and filial play therapy. Central to the text are interviews with leaders in the field, including Salvador Minuchin, Eliana Gil, Rise Van Fleet and Lee Shilts. A chapter devoted to ethical and legal issues in working with children in family counseling provides a much-needed overview of this often overlooked topic. Chapters include discussion of specific skills relevant to child counseling in the family context, case vignettes and examples, practical tips for the counselor, and handouts for parents.

Excerpt

A study conducted a few years ago found that children overwhelmingly wanted to be involved in family counseling, even when they were not the focus of the problem (Stith, Rosen, McCollum, Coleman, & Herman, 1996). Yet other research indicated that despite their wishes, to a large degree children are being excluded ftherapists were uncertain of just what role children play in family therapy (Cederborg, 1997).

How can the field of family therapy neglect the needs of the youngest members of families? How can we do family therapy without addressing the needs of individual family members, and how can we counsel individuals without addressing the needs of the family? What knowledge and skills do counselors need to know to be effective in child-focused family treatment? When should children be included, and under what circumstances should they be excluded from family sessions? How might play techniques be integrated in family counseling? Although little has been written on these issues, one recent study explored these ideas, and identified specific content areas and training methods to increase clinicians’ comfort and skills in working with children and adult family members (Sori & Sprenkle, 2004).

The goal of this book is to interpolate the research findings of Sori and Sprenkle (2004) into both theory and clinical practice. Part I of this monograph begins in chapter 1 with a summary by Catherine Sori of the research by Sori and Sprenkle (2004) that addresses the above questions, while the topics . . .

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