The DSS is a state agency charged with the responsibility of protecting children from child abuse and neglect. DSS is committed to protecting children and strengthening families. When children are abused or neglected by the people responsible for caring for them, DSS will intervene to ensure the safety of the children. DSS responds to reports of abuse or neglect 24 hours a day. DSS becomes involved if there are any concerns that caretakers, parents, step-parents, guardians or other persons responsible for caring for children may be abusing or neglecting these children. Whenever possible and appropriate, DSS attempts to keep families intact. DSS reviews all the reports of child abuse and neglect received by the agency. If it is determined that abuse or neglect has occurred, or if a child appears to be at risk of being hurt, or is being neglected, DSS
takes action to protect that child.
The Child abuse and support group is an open ended and ongoing group that meets once every week for 90 minutes.
Purpose of the Group:
The purpose of the group is for clients to identify what personal behaviors and stressors contribute to upheaval in the family and can create an environment that facilitates neglect, to help develop insight into how stress and other external factors can affect people mentality, and to help members identify ways to manage stress in their everyday lives and reduce the potential for neglect and create a loving and embracing environment.
Members Significant Information:
The number of members participating in the group varies from week to week. In this weeks group eight family members were present including 5 women and 3 men.
Leader's significant identifying information:
The group leader is a 35 years old American male, with an MSW from Salem State University. He has had several years of previous experience leading groups with family in hospitals, conferences and mental health agencies.
Content of the Excerpt:
The following excerpt is taken from the meeting on Tuesday November 1st, 2005. There were 8 family members and present in the group 5 women and 3 men. The purpose of the meeting was to help the family identify the source of recent upheaval and stress that resulted in neglect.
Critical Incident Excerpt:
Cheryl began the conversation stating that she had a heavy workload lately and hence was struggling with multiple responsibilities. She felt she didn't have time for herself much less time to manage the needs of three very attention needy children. She felt guilty she had ignored her children the last three nights and had spent no time with them before they were hastily shuffled off to bed. Margaret responded that she related to what Cheryl had to say as she was also feeling unduly stressed lately, and had been working extra hours to try to pick up extra money for the holidays. After a shot pause, Margaret jumped in and nodded that the holidays were a particularly trying time and that she often found her anxiety levels peaking, and her time with her children rapidly fading despite her desire to spend more time with her children.
I said that sounded like a very common experience and agreed that the holidays could be very anxiety producing. (1). Cheryl and Margaret both agreed by nodding and affirming by comments by saying "yes they are." I then asked the group what specific events had occurred in the last several days that had increased their stress or preceded their feelings of anxiety. (2). Margaret said that she had picked up two extra shifts at work and Cheryl noted that she had also been working late every day this week. Both women noted that this had contributed to their stress levels and reduced the amount of time spent at home. Mark chimed in that he often felt neglected when he came home to an empty house and no dinner ready to go, and this contributed to resentment. The bustle of children tended to make him more anxious during this time. Albert also commented that he felt increasingly unimportant when his wife worked late and they had no time together.
A lull in the conversation then proceeded, after which I asked the group what steps they could take to reduce their stress levels at present. (3). Margaret responded that she felt obligated to take on extra hours to provide extra income for the holidays. She said this always tended to exacerbate her stress levels however. Albert piped in that he would gladly scale back holiday expenditures if his wife were willing to work fewer hours. Both agreed that the children would feel better cared for with more time from their parents and less time spent at work to get money for material objects that were ultimately meaningless.
I could see this visibly upset Cheryl who came from a deprived background and felt she had no choice but to work extra hours to pay extra bills and provide her children with the minimal. I intervened by mentioning that sometimes working extra hours were not an option but necessary for some and that there were others ways of creating intimacy and reducing anxiety (4). Mark agreed and mentioned he felt he could take a more active role taking care of the children and preparing dinner on nights when his wife had to come home late. This made Cheryl smile and said that her anxiety level would be reduced if she didn't feel she had to work at home and while at work I then suggested that it was important to create balance and that all partners shared an equal responsibility when creating this balance to help alleviate stress in the home and at work. (5).
Analysis of the Worker Actions
Worker action #1
Cheryl's admission of increasing stress and anxiety and feelings like she didn't have time to care for the children appropriately.
INTERPRETATION OF STIMULUS
Cheryl was feeling vulnerable and guilty about the possibility of working too much and neglecting her children.
(1) I said that sounded like a very common experience and agreed that the holidays could be very anxiety producing I also encouraged others to share with us similar stories.
VALUE ADDED OUTCOME:
I hoped that by empathizing with Cheryl she would feel more comfortable sharing her experience and encourage other group members to do the same. I also was attempting to encourage a go round where members of the group would establish a greater comfort level and share more about their particular experiences.
"A group worker needs effective way s to get a group started and to involve its members" (Duffy, 1994: 163). "The check-in, an exercise to open group sessions and other go-rounds which give each member a turn to speak are popular techniques" (Duffy, 1994: 163).
"A check in is a go round used as an opening ritual in which members report how they are feeling and what they would like to talk about" (Duffy, 1994: 164). The traditional "talking circle is a very old way of bringing people of all ages together for the purpose of teaching, learning and healing" (Duffy, 1994: 164).
"A go-round is an activity in which each group member is asked to respond to a particular stimulus" (Duffy, 1994: 163). It may be a particular structured exercise or technique (Duffy, 1994). The "agenda go round refers to this procedure specifically when it is used to set the schedule and topics of the meeting" (Duffy, 1994: 163).
"It is helpful to determine the focus and goals of the session in advance and provide activities which promote movement toward goals" (Ragg, 1991: 63).
Worker action #2
Margaret chimed in that she too had been feeling increasing stress regarding her workload and commented on the holiday stress.
INTERPRETATION OF STIMULUS
Margaret was finding common ground with Cheryl and realizing that it was the specific time of year adding to the stress that she ordinarily felt because of added work. This suggested that factors other than work (the holidays) were contributing to the increasing stress.
(2) I then asked the group what specific events had occurred in the last several days that had increased their stress or preceded their feelings of anxiety.
VALUE ADDED OUTCOME:
I hoped that by encouraging group members to identify specific events they would come to realize what other factors may contribute to their stress.
"When workers can see beyond the social infractions and respond to the underlying meaning of the challenging behavior, they create positive turning points in the groups movement" (Wayne & Gitterman, 2003: 24).
"The worker should point out the connections between the specific and the general in family systems" (Berman-Rossi, 1993: 78).
"The leader must promote an atmosphere of safety and support, allowing each to express a full range of emotions and experiences" (Ragg, 1991: 63).
"The Adlerian group approach emphasizes the social nature of people to support a group treatment model" (Gazda, Ginter & Herne, 2001: 79).