Family play therapy in the context of child sexual abuse : an ecological and Gestalt field approach model
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Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a major concern in the South African society. Although policies and legislation are directed at the protection of children, the high incidence of child sexual abuse is indicative of problems in society which cannot be addressed adequately with current service delivery. Individual interventions with children directly affected with CSA are still the norm, and even such services are inadequate to accommodate the high numbers of children affected by CSA. There is a polarity in terms of the shortage of social workers versus the need for intervention for this vulnerable group. Innovative and effective approaches to intervention for families affected by CSA were clearly needed. Based on practical experience in the field of CSA the researcher was interested in family play therapy as a possible approach to address CSA. Not only would more people be reached with limited services, but by involving family members in intervention it was envisaged that family systems would be strengthened, family members would be more attuned to each other and that the family would be more able to provide a safe space for the direct victim between sessions. Furthermore family members would be enabled to attend to their own processes of integration regarding the CSA. Intervention research guided this study aimed at developing tools for the helping profession. The research question focused on what the typical components would be of an integrated family play therapy approach. Participant groups included professionals working in the field of CSA. Focus groups and discussion groups with such professionals and also a literature review helped the researcher to identify functional elements to be included in a preliminary family play therapy model that was applied to four families who were affected by CSA. During the family play therapy sessions rich information was obtained on the experiences of families. Based on the data collection from the various participant groups an integrated family play therapy model was developed. Findings are reported in three articles. Article 1 outlines the views of professionals on family play therapy within the context of child sexual abuse in South Africa. The professional participants agreed that individual intervention in the context of CSA is not the ideal and that systemic, Gestalt-based family play therapy may offer avenues for trauma integration for family members. They also indicated that they do not have adequate knowledge and skills to engage in family play therapy. They made some suggestions for the incorporation of play in family play therapy interventions. The second article captured the experiences of family members as expressed in the family play therapy context and article 3 outlined an integrated family play therapy model based on the previous phases of the intervention research.
- Humanities