Creative Therapies With Traumatized Children by Anne Bannister

By Anne Bannister

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Writing about work with adolescents, dramatherapist Renee Emunah (1995) also stresses ‘identity cohesion’ and the opportunity to express different roles. She also discusses the ease with which dramatherapy sessions can move to psychodrama and vice versa. Adolescents may prefer to begin working, within dramatherapy, on a hypothetical abuse situation and move to a specific situation, from their own lives, in psychodrama. Thus the ability to be flexible within the creative therapies is important. 52 CREATIVE THERAPIES WITH TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN A similar approach is used by Peter Pitzele (1991), describing his psychodramatic groupwork with adolescents in an inpatient psychiatric setting.

53) but older children who have been abused for a long time may have multiple problems which are not quite so obvious because their coping behaviours are better developed (Bannister 1997). Most studies agree that the abuse will affect children according to their age or developmental level (Dixen and Jenkins 1981). More recent research makes it clear that long-term sexual abuse (which is likely to begin when the child is very young) is also frequently linked with emotional and physical abuse and victims are more likely to come from families who have existing problems (Bagley 1996).

These children are, therefore, unlikely to have supportive carers who are able to alleviate some of the worst effects of abuse. The nature of the abuse may also be a mediating factor in subsequent traumatic symptoms and it has been suggested that females suffer more trauma than do males. This may be because in the past males have tended to disclose abuse less often than females (Rogers and Terry 1984). However, recent revelations about large numbers of boys sexually abused in children’s homes suggest that the problems eventually shown by these young men were the result of undiscovered, earlier sexual abuse (Doran and Brannan 1996).

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