Violence and Barriers to Meaningful Relationships

A MSRT student at Temple University. shared that she had been introduced to Robert Waldinger’s TED Talk: What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.
Here is a link to the video:
The student shared, “His main point states that in life, our happiness is most influenced by meaningful relationships.”
She asked: “My question to you is how, in our practice, can we best promote meaningful relationships for our participants when there may be barriers due to violence? What kinds of interventions do you use to help various populations that may become more reclusive due to past abuse, gender violence, etc.? In what ways can we address this issue with participants?”
Here is my response:

 

I provide services for children (both male and female) between (ages 7 to 12) who have abuse-reactive needs. Children admitted to the unit have experienced some type of traumatic in their life.

 It is a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility. The typical stay is 6 to 9 months.

Some of the common needs among patients include:

 

  • Lack of interpersonal skills (possibly from learned behaviors)
  • Lack of assertiveness skills (often resorts to physical, verbal aggression)
  • Lack of a social support system (no identified foster family or adoptive family)
  • Lack trust in others
  • In addition, patients may have other conditions, like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Some children have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) – this is where they had neglect at an early age and fail to learn how to have emotional connections and relationships

 

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) are the two primary treatment modalities. There is evidenced-based research that demonstrates that these two approaches are effective.

Both TF-CBT and DBT have a focus on interpersonal skills.

  • In the TF-CBT mode, there is a phase called, enhancing social skills
  • In the DBT model, there interpersonal skills are one of the four main skill sets taught.

 

We identify our intervention as “interpersonal skills training or social skills training.”

We in recreation therapy have a lot to offer in this domain.

 

We use a lot of recreation activities as means to achieve outcomes.

  • Sports: taking turns, good sportsmanship, being part of a team/ group
  • Board games: taking turns, being a good sport,
  • Social activities: ballroom party for Halloween or ice cream social
  • Education/ classroom settings: to teach skills. Using pictures of children in different social situations
  • The listening game: Teach what paraphrasing is. Get a book like “The conversation starts.” Read a question to a group member. Group member answers. Randomly select a different group member to paraphrase what the first group member said to indicate he (or she) listened and then ask that group member a question.
  • Assertiveness training: Teach the children to ask for what they want or to express their feelings with use of I-statements.
  • Cinema therapy card game: Play a movie. Ask children questions from the card game that get the kids to point out social skills, emotions in characters
  • Community re-entry outings: passes to local parks, zoos, water parks, mall, or other places.
  • Emotional support: being able to recognize emotions in others and be able to offer support
  • Family-based recreation therapy: with rec therapist: Mental health therapist/ counselor provide family therapy. and the rec therapist often supervise the community re-entry outings before a new family is on their own with a patient. The rec therapist can implement games and activities to help the family and child to get to know each other, and supervises passes in the community.

 

The recreation therapist serves as a role-model, a coach, a facilitator, and evaluates progress.

Rec Therapist: What are you going to do with your life?

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Have you ever thought of how many days you have left until you die?

I have.

The truth is: we all die. Ironically, it is the month of October.

My personal favorite theory in psychology and counseling is the existential theory created by Victor Frankl. It is a theory about finding meaning in life.

There is a really neat informal assessment tool to determine how many years you’ll have.  It is one of the activity worksheets featured in the Leisure Education manual of resources by Elbert Chance and Norma Stumbo. The activity requires the participant to answer your questions about their life choices and it tells you how many years you’ll live. In example people who choose to smoke will take off a few numbers. Those who exercise can add a few  numbers. I used this book as a young professional and still use it today.

We Rec Therapists provide services to help promote health, wellness, independent functioning for people.

One of my mentors, Jack Canfield (co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul) book series (who is also from West Virginia) showed me this awesome youtube video titled: “The Time You Have (in JellyBeans).

You might want to share this video with the patients/ clients that you provide services for.

I [Danny Pettry] believe I’m pretty self-aware of who I am and what I want to accomplish in several areas of my life: family/ social, contribution, financial, health/ wellness, and my profession.

Please check out my “About” page at my web-site to learn more about my [Danny Pettry] goals for our profession: Recreational Therapy.

or go here: http://www.dannypettry.com/about.html 

Here is my flyer: tentcard-8.5inx11in-v