The selected group, abused children, require a distinct level of attention that is characterized by a specific framework that will be supportive and helpful for this population group. It is important to recognize these concerns and to customize the group focus to recognize the needs of abused children, which may be very different from the needs of other children. It is important to recognize these concerns and to provide this group with an environment that is not only safe, but is also comfortable and away from any type of perceived abuse. These efforts are important because they contribute to the overall direction and purpose of the group to improve morale and positivity within the group. The following discussion will consider the formation of a specific group to aid abused children and will recognize the value of this group in improving their mental status and wellbeing.
Designing a group for abused children requires an effective understanding of the group dynamic and the problems that participants might face with respect to their experiences with abuse. Therefore, it is important to consider some of these challenges and how they impact this population and integrate these concerns into the group model. These developments will also demonstrate the important value of a group for children who have faced abuse because they are likely to be haunted by these memories on a regular basis. Therefore, they must be addressed during the group development stage in order to provide participants with an environment that will promote comfort and understanding for this group of children who are likely to be very vulnerable in the wake of their own experiences. Therefore, the formation of a support group for this group requires an understanding of the sensitivity of the issue and the dynamic that is essential to achieve group success.
Creative approaches to group development require an understanding of the group’s makeup and experiences. In addition, cultural identities are important and reflect the challenging nature of the group and its potential impact on participants (Corey and Core, 2010). It is important to recognize cultural differences and expectations so that participants feel as comfortable as possible in the group model that is created (Corey and Corey, 2010). In addition, this model must reflect the capacity to be sensitive to participant experiences and the challenges that they face in their daily lives because these issues impact almost every area of their lives in some manner (Corey and Corey, 2010). Within this context, it is important to create an environment for participants that reflects any limitations of their culture and is sensitive to these needs, as well as the difficult circumstances that bring the group together to begin with (Corey and Corey, 2010).
The creation of a successful group dynamic also requires a greater understanding of the different elements that contribute to successful results and discussion for all participants. This practice will encourage the development of new principles to facilitate the group and to achieve success in this endeavor. Participants within the group in question are likely to have been severely traumatized; therefore, they must be evaluated and managed thoughtfully and sensitively so that their participation is appropriate. Any support group of this nature must recognize the potential prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder; therefore, it is important to identify the specific areas where behaviors are most likely to result in this condition (Connor and Butterfield, 2003). For these children, “Among the most effective psychosocial interventions are cognitive behavioral approaches that use exposure and cognitive restructuring techniques” (Connor and Butterfield, 2003, p. 354). Within this context, it is observed that many children face varying levels of posttraumatic stress disorder and may not even realize what they are experiencing; therefore, they require significant support and counseling in order to effectively respond to these experiences and to make sense of what has taken place within their lives (Connor and Butterfield, 2003). Furthermore, many counselors developing a group for abused children may find it difficult for children to share their experiences on an individual basis, but in group settings, this information might be easier to share and to acknowledge (Connor and Butterfield, 2003).
The development of a support group for abused children also requires a knowledgeable and experienced counseling team in order to accomplish the desired objectives with this group. Due to the sensitive nature of this group and its specific needs, it is necessary to determine how to establish a group environment that addresses the underlying issues first and foremost, while also considering the other obstacles that are present within this group environment. Since children do now always understand the extent of what they have experienced, it becomes necessary to determine how to address the issues that bother them in a sensitive manner because this will impact their wellbeing and continued development in different ways. For this group, it is known that “Severe loss, particularly parental loss, and the absence of care (e.g., parental or caregiver absence and neglect) may be as predictive of psychological distress in children as are events that are more frequently studied, such as sexual and physical abuse” (Connor and Butterfield, 2003). These findings suggest that there are significant factors associated with the creation of an environment that will provide adequate support and encouragement to this population group, while also exploring the different dimensions of a child’s psychosocial needs in this manner (Connor and Butterfield, 2003).
The group dynamic for abused children must be sensitive to the needs of its participants above all else. Therefore, counselors should have specific and extensive experience in working with children in different capacities in order to provide optimal support to this group. At the same time, it is important to recognize that the group dynamic may require time and effort to fully develop; therefore, it is important for the counseling team to establish a programmatic effort that will not alienate any participants, but rather, integrate them into the experience more fully. This will encourage the creation of an environment that will provide each individual with the support that is necessary to overcome his or her fears and to make sense of what they have experienced. Each child should experience a sense of belonging within the group and should recognized individually so that he or she will understand that they are wanted and loved.
Establishing a successful group dynamic for abused children requires an effective understanding of the different elements that contribute to this group, such as counselors who have experience with abused children and other events associated with posttraumatic stress disorder. The success of the group will depend on the ability to remain sensitive to cultural boundaries and expectations and will also consider the different elements that positively contribute to the group and its participants to make them feel more comfortable and willing to discuss their experiences. A successful evaluation of the group effort will depend on the ability of children to improve and to recognize that they are loved and wanted, and will demonstrate that counselors are willing to work with them to discuss their fears and to lead by example. The subject matter is highly sensitive; therefore, it must be approached in the context of enabling these children to overcome their traumatic experiences and to lead healthy and productive lives as children and as adults. These efforts convey the importance of long-term therapeutic interventions in a group setting in order to achieve the desired objectives and outcomes.
Connor, K.M., and Butterfield, M.I. (2003). Posttraumatic stress disorder. Focus 1, 247-262.
Corey, M.S., and Corey, G. (2010). Groups: Process and Practice, 8th Edition. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.