In this issue
Identity integration in fragmented families (free article)
Charlie Morse-Brown thinks about young people’s sense of identity when families split
Medical play therapy
Distressed and possibly traumatised young patients can be helped, says Judi Parson
Sue Campbell helps parents to understand their role in their children’s emotional wellbeing
Evaluating emotional wellbeing
Debbie Collins offers an assessment form that looks beyond behaviour
Specific developmental tasks 11–17
Rebecca Kirkbride outlines the understanding needed for work with adolescents
Research findings to inform our practice, by Terry Hanley and Julia Noble
Shared decision making with SEND children
Gary Tebble advocates for an empowering meta dialogue to inform the therapy
What does integrative mean?
Should we drop our therapeutic divisions and embrace integration? asks Alix Hearn
Ruth Marchant and colleagues explain best practice in the face of a disclosure
Reflecting on… attention seeking
Thinking about… transitions
Welcome from the editor
I think we could call this the integration issue, although it wasn’t quite planned that way. So maybe the appearance here of various kinds of integration ideas means that the current zeitgeist is about ‘coming towards’ instead of ‘drifting apart’ (you could even say ‘dangerously drifting apart’). Certainly, the angst, terror and malaise of recent years – which is now affecting our young people to an undesirable extent – have pushed some of us to wish people could get their act together as a world, as humanity.
But life happens for most of us nearer home, and in the world of therapy. Here, we have seen the appearance of increasing numbers of ‘new’ therapeutic models, complete with lucrative training courses and (perhaps less lucrative) textbooks to explain and extol them – all with labels that clearly aim at integrating one aspect or model with another. Sometimes it makes me sigh. I mean, which child cares what model of therapy they’re getting, so long as it helps lessen their distress? The young people I’ve worked with who were depressed, even suicidal, didn’t care about models. They cared about two things: their relationship with me and a safe place to tell all. Or cry. Or stay silent. Anything we therefore integrate into our way of being will be experienced by them, not named up front. We simply bring our all to meet with them. Which begs the question: how integrated is our ‘all’? Because, philosophising and theory aside, our ‘all’ is who we are as child and young people therapists.
So our articles here seem to address many facets of this ‘all-ness’ or integration. Alix Hearn believes we need to drop our theoretical divisions and get a sense of a ‘whole’ therapeutic model by having more integrated training courses and learning to integrate the whole of ourselves into the relationship with the whole of the client. Charlie Morse-Brown, in our lead article, says it’s essential we likewise help young people in split families to integrate their identity after the fragmentation that is likely to have occurred alongside their parents’ separation. Sue Campbell believes we need to integrate parents into the general helping context in order to fully support children’s wellbeing. Debbie Collins offers us a way to evaluate outcomes that integrates the child’s emotional wellbeing progress into an overall view – which has often reflected only behavioural change. Gary Tebble integrates his various trainings into his work with young people in the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) arena – as well as sharing and integrating into the intervention his meta-process of shared decision making with the young person, in order to fully provide a unique encounter for them. Ruth Marchant and her colleagues from Triangle explain how they integrate disclosure into the therapeutic relationship process – or perhaps integrate relationship into the disclosure process? – as a two-way, best-practice interaction, rather than seeing disclosure as a one-off, one-way event that can close doors and be damaging. We obviously need to integrate research findings into our work, and hospitals need to integrate medical play therapy in its various forms into the general treatment plan with children, as Judi Parson explains.
In addition, Rebecca Kirkbride begins a short series on the competences identified by BACP that are required in us and in our work. Whether it’s about learning, reflecting or applying, these competences name the skills, understanding and knowledge we need to embed in our very being.
So I wonder if integration, as a total and all-encompassing idea, is moving out of the closet into acceptance, in the same way that coach-therapy did a few years back. Far from being a oneness that smacks of utilitarian sliced white bread for the masses, it should lead to a breathtaking display of confident uniqueness in the work we do with each child. Which is the real integration issue at stake.