Children may have some symptoms that are different from adults such as agitated behavior, repetitive play involving trauma, frightening non-specific dreams, and reenactment of the traumatic event.
Long Term Treatment Goals
• Ensure safety from further victimization.
• Help client understand and control the feelings and behavior that accompany the assault.
• Build self esteem.
Short Term Treatment Goals
• Establish therapeutic rapport and open communication with client.
• Assess the level of symptomology.
• Obtain medical assistance (forensic examination).
• Obey child abuse laws (mandatory reporting)
• Assess for suicidal tendencies.
• Have client tell their story.
• Identify and express feelings about the abuse.
• Decrease feelings of guilt and shame.
• Increase feelings of empowerment.
• Write out what happened including feelings.
• Play Therapy
o Angry tower: build tower, then verbalize while throwing things at the tower, watching it topple, to allow feelings to emerge.
• Mutual Story telling
o Client and therapist take turns telling stories (may use puppets dolls or stuffed animals).
• Art Therapy
o Associate color with feelings
o Draw different scenes for different feelings
o Have client write letter to perpetrator that describes feelings about the abuse. Process the letter.
• Develop personalized Safety Plan
o Self defense classes
o Safety escape routes.
o Who to call in cases of emergency
o Domestic violence safety plans can be searched for online.
• Challenging Beliefs
o Discuss myths and realities
o Reduce feelings of shame and guilt
• Encourage group work
• Encourage parents to reassure child that they are not angry at family member/victim.
• The best things parents can do is believe the client.
• Encourage the whole family to find support, as well as being a support for each other.
• Establish safety for the whole family.
• Have parents request and advocate.
• Encourage the family to make sure client knows they are not to blame.
• Discuss myths as a family.