An Ecological Perspective: Therapist Practices with Children who Experienced Abuse and Trauma

Authors

  • Claudia Edwards,

    1. Social Sciences and Psychology, Victoria University
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  • Wally Karnilowicz

    Corresponding author
    1. Social Sciences and Psychology, Victoria University
      Wally Karnilowicz, Social Sciences and Psychology, Victoria University, Footscray Park Campus, Ballarat Rd., Footscray, PO Box 14428, Melbourne, Vic 8001, Australia. Fax: +61 3 99194324; email: wally.karnilowicz@vu.edu.au
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Wally Karnilowicz, Social Sciences and Psychology, Victoria University, Footscray Park Campus, Ballarat Rd., Footscray, PO Box 14428, Melbourne, Vic 8001, Australia. Fax: +61 3 99194324; email: wally.karnilowicz@vu.edu.au

Abstract

This qualitative study explores experiences of psychotherapists working in public settings with children who experienced abuse and trauma. The study sought to investigate and understand factors which intruded upon and or supported the capacity for psychotherapists in a community clinic to cognitively process and understand supportive and constraining aspects of the professional context. An important focus was the organisational context of psychotherapists. Nine psychotherapists were interviewed to gain an understanding of their experiences with and perceptions of the needs of children including factors considered important in therapy, the influences of their organisational context, and challenges and rewards of the work. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of interview data revealed three broad themes identified as relational, organisational, and systemic. An ecological metaphor was used to conceptualise these themes as they related to psychotherapists and the children with whom they worked. The findings demonstrated the importance of the psychotherapist's organisational context on how they experienced their work. This study also considered the need to conceptualise therapy with children who have experienced trauma within the interaction of the child and therapist's relational, organisational, and systems context.

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