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Time for a change Patricia Giles Centre Childrens Counselling Service Perth, Western Australia 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Time for a change Patricia Giles Centre Childrens Counselling Service Perth, Western Australia 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Time for a change Patricia Giles Centre Childrens Counselling Service Perth, Western Australia 2012.

2 Background The Patricia Giles Centre (PGC) Childrens Counselling Service (CCS), previously known as Domestic Violence Childrens Counselling Service, was first funded in 1998. CCS is a free counselling service for children aged 4 to 18 years who have experienced domestic and/or family violence. The counsellors attend ten womens refuges in the Perth metropolitan area on a weekly basis and additional counselling services are provided at various outreach venues.

3 2010 After 12 years it was seen as timely to conduct an internal review of the CCS to answer the following questions: What is now regarded as best practice in regard to interventions for children who have lived with domestic violence? And does the service offered by the CCS provide the best possible support for these children?

4 Methodology The review was conducted in two stages, a preliminary exploration which involved a review of documentation, interviews with CCS staff, the CEO of PGC and five of the ten refuges to which CCS provides a weekly service. The secondary literature review stage focused on key areas identified during stage one, in particular new directions in interventions for children living with domestic violence.

5 Current Service Activities While the service is described as a child counselling service, it was found during this review that the term counselling only described part of what the CCS provides. The staff divide their time between the following activities: Counselling children 4-18 years at refuges and outreach venues; Parenting information, advice and support; Groups (both internal and in conjunction with other services); Family Camps; Supervision of students on placement; Annual Child Support Workers meetings every two months since 2009 provided for 4-6 Refuge Child Support staff. Ad hoc training and information sessions to other agencies.

6 Issues Limited/Unknown length of contact time with clients in refuges making it difficult to plan interventions for children. Counselling within the refuge setting was often not in ideal setting for counselling. Child clients and their mums often have complex, multidimensional problems. The accessibility of the service in refuges may result in mums making use of the service without the necessary willingness or motivation to make the necessary changes to assist their children. Refuge and Child Support staff refer all children for counselling.

7 Literature Review: In 2004, the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System In Canada conducted a comprehensive literature review of over 100 references in an effort to unearth the best information that could inform interventions for children in family violence situations. This review, authored by Cunningham and Baker (year) was entitled:What about me! Seeking to understand a childs view of violence in the family.

8 Cunningham & Bakers Findings in Brief: Among children who live or have lived with inter-parental violence there are two separate groups: 1)A group that lives with sporadic and bi-directional violence within the context of marital conflict and verbal abuse; and 2)A much smaller group experiences family dynamics as described in the Power & Control Wheel. This permeates their lives daily; The latter group differs from the former (and from other children) in that they experience a package of adversities besides violence. The adversity package characterising this group will almost certainly include direct child maltreatment and may include poverty, instability, substance use, mental illness and involvement with the criminal justice system.

9 Factors Impacting On How DV Affects Children: As Cunningham points out, there is a danger in assuming that even when faced with similar problems it is dangerous to assume that all children will be affected in the same way. Individual Child. Age, gender, coping strategies, temperament, intelligence. Co-occuring Child-experience Adversities. Maltreatment, neglect, loss/grief, poor nutrition etc. Family context. Poverty, cohesion, isolation, family functioning, residential stability, size, emigration, immigrant stress, disability (of child or parent) parental substance abuse, parental health, parenting style, cultural beliefs, religious values etc. Local Social Context. Neighbourhood characteristics, intervention of helping professions and legal system, community violence, school early intervention programs etc. Larger Social Context. Social attitudes to violence, assumptions of service providers, funding and availability of resources, legal & policy context, media violence.

10 Cunninghams concept of the adversity package is a useful concept to describe the complex, multi-dimensional issues that the Childrens Counselling staff report the majority of their clients in refuges as having. There is a very high likelihood that children who have lived with domestic violence will also be living with a range of other adversities including neglect, poverty, sexual abuse, parents with a mental health and/or substance misuse issue. This pre-existing adversity package is then further amplified by the challenges that the child or young person faces when moving into the refuge. Adversity Package

11 The need for the provision of a range of interventions and support. It cannot be assumed that all children will be impacted by their experience of domestic violence in the same way and that the same intervention/s will work for the same experiences. A range of interventions is therefore required across a variety of service contexts. Changes to Service Delivery

12 Partnerships with parents (particularly mothers) is the key to any intervention with children. If the parent is not sufficiently engaged in the process, or does not have a good understanding of the therapeutic process, this can create problems for their children who may have brief encounters with a number of counsellors, creating barriers to the child engaging with counselling both during their youth, and later as an adult. The Importance of Working With Parents

13 Baker and Cunningham (2004) believe that once an abusive partner is out of the home, helping mothers is the best way to help children, particularly in the areas of: Identifying and addressing unhelpful coping strategies; Developing family rules that address respect, safety, privacy; The use of age-appropriate and effective discipline; Seeking of assistance if they are using corporal punishment; Regaining trust and healing the attachment bond between mum and her children; and Encouraging mums to take care of themselves and reach out for assistance if they need more support.

14 2011 Department of Child Protection funded a one- off grant to PGC-CCS to implement changes in service delivery. Advisory group of experienced CSW, refuge managers and childrens counsellors. Information sessions provided at refuges, Child Support Workers meetings and Women's Council for DFV Services conference.

15 Changes Implemented at the Childrens Counselling Service Outreach venue clients Triaging all referrals to obtain a more thorough assessment; and prioritising referrals. A counselling session will be left free each week to be available for children involved in critical incidents as it is imperative that these children are seen urgently. The care-giver is informed at the assessment that the service provides short-to medium-term counselling to children who have experienced Domestic Violence. Utilise contracts with non-abusing parent: to outline service policy regarding: attending appointments and commitment to undertake other supportive programs for adult and /or child. Formalising referrals to other services where appropriate..

16 Refuge Clients Child Support Workers with Mums permission to complete the initial parent assessment form and include with any referral their observations of the childs interactions and relationships with parent, siblings, peers. OPTION ONE CSW to undertake other interventions, where counselling is not appropriate or relevant. If child is expecting to be short-term in refuge; if child isnt showing significant sign of trauma; or if returning to DV situation. Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swivelled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark. Bryce Courtenay

17 This may include : Safety planning Protective behaviours Art therapy Feelings work Sand play Non-directed play therapy Support network Worry Tree/Box Storytelling/yarning Behavioural charts

18 OPTION TWO Refuge child clients When to refer to CCS. If child is obviously traumatised; if child is staying at refuge for at least 6-12 weeks; if mother has directly requested counselling (or if child is over 14 years of age and has requested him/herself) If Child Support Worker has concerns due to sexualised behaviour, aggression or post- traumatic stress symptoms

19 2012 New CCS manager and new counselling staff. New child support staff and refuge managers in several refuges. Resistance to change. Upskilling CSW staff.

20 Keeping Kids Safe The Keeping Kids Safe project aims to provide support, training and resources to refuge staff and children workers to enable them to support child and young people escaping DFV. Recent training opportunities have included: Protective Behaviours (level 1 and 2) and sand play therapy. Training has also been conducted over the last 3 years on; The impact of domestic and family violence on Children, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, Case Management, Sexual Abuse, Working therapeutically with children, Working with Aboriginal people, Family Rhyme Time

21 So where are we now? From the 1 st July 2012 in line with a new six month data collection period CCS commenced the new service model in 10 refuges. Parent assessment forms were modified in response to CSW concerns. 9 out of 10 refuges have begun using the new referral process. Alison Cunningham is presenting in Perth next week at the CSW conference. Either way, change will come. It could be bloody, or it could be beautiful. It depends on us. Arundhati RoyArundhati Roy

22 Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman. Maya AngelouMaya Angelou Or in this case child.

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