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Children’s contributions to family functioning through family-centered therapy : a collaborative case study approach Aronchick-Zachernuk, Barbara

Abstract

"Many family therapists have not received basic training in clinical work with children (i.e. child development, child psychopathology, child assessment or child therapy) and do not know how to relate to children as individuals." (Gil, 1994, p. v) Similarly, it has been argued, that childcentered clinicians tend to focus their energies upon providing direct and specific help to the individual child thereby operating in a relatively narrow band. This service may then occur at the expense of applying a wider-angled lens, one in which the family becomes the powerful force for problem reduction and change. This descriptive case study illuminates how an individual child, and the members of his family, view and interpret the child's behaviour, within the context of a child-in-family therapy approach. It examines a treatment model that posits the following supposition: that individual issues and concerns influence and are influenced by the family system, yet each one has a separate and distinct existence. Through this qualitative single case research study, the child and his family were viewed as the basic phenomenological unit and a model of inclusion was applied, where the "voice" of the child within the family dynamic was highlighted. Using, as a foundation for this exploration, historical to current theoretical and practice trends, an in-depth description of a multidimensional perspective for working with a young "identified" child and his family of origin, was provided. To frame the child's lived experience in therapy, a combined individual and family playtherapy intervention process was employed. This served to inform, guide, and interpret the child's contributions to his own personal development, and to the growth of his family system as a whole. Within this context, assessment and ongoing treatment strategies were analyzed in order to create a case study portraiture of a troubled child and the members of his family.

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