Working With Children Who Have Experienced Neglect or Abuse
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
In Working With Children Who Have Experienced Neglect or Abuse, Dr. Wes Crenshaw demonstrates his approach to working with children who have been neglected or sexually or physically abused. Because most offenders in cases of abuse or neglect are within the child's family, this approach by necessity treats the entire family system, and the goal of therapy is to recontextualize the act of injustice, in both the offender's and the victim's minds.
In this session, Dr. Crenshaw works with three sons who were neglected and abused by their mother, who is addicted to drugs. Dr. Crenshaw listens to the painful experiences of this family and then helps the boys and their father to place the mother's behavior within the broader context of their lives.
The main goal of this therapy is to recontextualize the past acts of abuse, in both the offender's and the victim's minds. This involves reassociating the events so that they are no longer central in the mind of the victim and so that they are understood as wrong in the mind of the offender. For the victim, this means placing the event into the broader context of his or her life. For the offender, this may mean counseling on the moral issues surrounding the abuse or neglect so that the offender understands the wrong they have done. Ultimately, the offender should be contrite and offer that contrition to the victim, who may or may not forgive the offender. Because the therapy deals most often with intrafamily violence, the therapist has the opportunity to work with both the victim and the offender who committed the act of violence or neglect, making the ideal of contrition and forgiveness possible.
Children who have suffered from neglect or abuse are a complex population, and work with them will often involve not only the family but also the legal system and the foster care system. Because of this, therapists who wish to work with this population should get some additional training and education about working with these fields. However, with this additional training, the approach as demonstrated in this video may be adopted by school counselors or other counseling professionals working within schools. It is important that schools adopt an approach to working with this population, as the school is often the first place that signs of abuse or neglect are observed.
Wes Crenshaw received his PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Kansas. He is board certified in family psychology (American Board of Professional Psychology) and directs the Family Therapy Institute Midwest. He was a regional faculty member at Cloe Madanes' Family Therapy Institute of Washington, DC, for several years. He was training director at an urban child and family guidance center for 5 years, where he founded a predoctoral psychology internship and, along with Greg Tangari, a post-master's program for the supervision of clinical social workers toward independent licensure.
Dr. Crenshaw is the author of Treating Families and Children in the Child Protective System: Strategies for Systemic Advocacy and Family Healing (2004). In addition to this new book, Dr. Crenshaw has also published articles in The Family Therapy Networker, Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Child Welfare, Psychiatric Services (formerly H&CP), Behavioral Sciences and the Law, and The Family Journal. He has also written chapters in Changing Directives: The Strategic Therapy of Jay Haley (Zeig, 2001) and The Therapist's Notebook (Hecker & Deacon, 1998).
Dr. Crenshaw has presented programs at the Brief Therapy Conference (Erickson Foundation); the Jay Haley Tribute Conference (Erickson Foundation); The Networker Symposium; the American Psychological Association Annual Convention; the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; the National Conference on Forgiveness in Clinical Practice; the Kansas Bar Association; the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association; Temple University School of Psychiatry; the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita; and the Menninger Clinic.
Dr. Crenshaw has worked with abused children and their families both in and out of the child protective system for 11 years and has consulted for a number of years with mental health and social service agencies on related topics. Dr. Crenshaw and his wife have three children, including one who came to them originally as a foster placement. A popular therapist with adolescents and their families as well as an author and speaker, Dr. Crenshaw is well-known as an advocate for the best interest of children.
In association with his colleagues, and following a rich tradition of strategic and structural therapy, Dr. Crenshaw offers his book and training seminars to professionals throughout the United States. He is known for his direct and humanistic style, his knowledge of the subject, and his ability to use respectful humor to underscore the impact of his message.
Crenshaw, W. (2004). Treating families and children in the child protective system: Strategies for systemic advocacy and family healing. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
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