Magazine article Children's Voice

Readers Write

Magazine article Children's Voice

Readers Write

Article excerpt

Therapeutic Value?

Many of the arguments presented in Dave Ziegler's article, "Is There A Therapeutic Value to Physical Restraint?" ( Children's Voice, July/August 2004) are familiar to me due to the restraint reduction initiative my agency undertook in 1998. As a staff member involved in many restraints, I want to believe every time I put my hands on a child it was in his or her therapeutic best interest. Inevitably, you look back and think, "I could have done that differently."

Dr. Ziegler's argument is that if restraint is used at the right time, for the right reason, and by the right person, it is a therapeutic intervention. But most of our staff "working the floor" with kids do not have the knowledge or therapeutic skills to make those judgment calls every time. Even with the best training and education, the decision to restrain is most effectively made by people with years of experience. Unfortunately, the staff with this kind of experience are not the folks who are still working the floor.

Even when used at the right time, for the right reason, and by the right person, restraint is still treatment on hold at best. Safety has to come first in those circumstances. But make no mistake-the truest treatment occurs when a child and staff work through a crisis through processing and relationship versus restraint.

Dr. Ziegler discusses a child's need for touch and, at times, containment. I argue there are more therapeutically sound ways to meet that need. With some of the lower-functioning and autistic children we have served, this seems more prevalent. A strong hug, a handshake, pressure by pushing gently on outstretched arms, and lying under a beanbag (all at the child's request) have been ways we have met this need. I believe that phenomenon is real and deserves more research.

Adults can best show they are in control of a situation by the quiet self-assurance that comes with experience. …

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