Sarah has been behaving in a sexually precocious manner with her brother and is constantly talking about genitals. Sarah's teacher has reported that she acts out sexual behaviours with the dolls in class and has on two occasions masturbated during reading times.
What issues would I attempt to address first and why?
I would want to find out about the masturbation and the sexual acts with the dolls.
Formal assessment I would undertake.
˜We must therefore be cautious in using defining terms which a child may carry throughout childhood and beyond' (Bannister, 1990: pg.118)
In the beginning I would like to just observe Sarah in her play, see what she talks about when she is playing with the dolls and just observe her body language, the way she uses the dolls whether it is very graphic and detailed with what is going on.
Sarah uses the dolls to act out these sexual acts, so the dolls would not be too confronting for her and with being able to watch what she is doing would help me to get a better understanding of what may be happening.
˜For endeavouring to discern whether abuse has taken place, one must test in both realms of personal and projected play- that is in physically active drama and in static play with dolls and objects. Results may be different. Only if unguided play in both realms reveals the same evidence can we begin to believe we are on the right track and are reading symbols correctly' (Bannister, 1990: pg.40)
While Sarah was playing with the dolls I would try and involve myself by asking her who the dolls were and whether they had a name, maybe I could be one of the dolls if she handed it to me. I would also like to know what the dolls were doing but I wouldn't ask these questions right away. You need to develop rapport with the child first.
˜In the same way that in adult therapy the relationship with the counsellor is of major influence, it is generally agreed that in child therapy the child