Furthermore, when considering the social, emotional and cognitive development of looked after children in a residential therapeutic community, it is important to consider their early experiences; sibling and later peer relationships, but also the experience of being placed in care. Rutter argues that:. As well as acknowledging group dynamics within family and residential care homes, there should also be a consideration of the way in which group dynamics are apparent within a therapeutic group setting.
Drawing upon her clinical experience, Reid identifies the way in which groups can be used for therapeutic interventions stating that:. Consequently, it is through group relating that children are able to see the impact that they have on others as well as the impact others have on them. Therefore, through the interactions and experiences within a safe therapeutic group, and under the facilitating presence of the therapist, the child is able to understand more about the relationships they have; the way they and others function within those relationships and to create new ways of relating on all levels.
This fictional book depicts the lives of a group of children who are isolated on an island without any adults present. However, the innate and most primitive desires of the children become more apparent and the presence of a benign and caring internal parental figure diminishes leaving only a cruel and punitive one, resulting in the murder of one child. Although there are always adults present for the children within a therapeutic residential community, links between the primitive states of the children featured in the book and the children in a therapeutic residential community can be drawn.
Jack had backed right against the tribe and they were a solid mass of menace that bristled with spears. The infant observed, Poppy, is the second and youngest child to Ellie and Kevin, a middle-class, professional couple. Kevin often works away for several days a week and Ellie works from home. For instance, when Poppy was six days old, Ellie stated that Jacob was becoming increasingly aggressive towards Poppy:.
It is really difficult as I get so cross with him when he hurts her, but I know he is finding it very difficult. However, this shocked state after an attack from Jacob was not prevalent for long — when Poppy was four weeks old, her responses began to change. Poppy was led on the sofa, tucked into the corner with cushions surrounding her and Ellie was in the kitchen when:. Ellie then looked in from the kitchen doorway and asked Jacob to be gentle with her, at which point Poppy opened her eyes and looked towards Ellie.
Poppy looked between me, Jacob and the kitchen door and began to frown. Ellie then re-entered the room and asked Jacob if he was being gentle with Poppy and that she hoped he was as she was getting quite cross with him for being so boisterous with her already this morning.
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During later observations, Poppy would engage with Jacob in a similar way by hugging Jacob around the neck tightly or lying on him. Perhaps this was a more acceptable way for them to explore their aggressive feelings within the family group. Furthermore, Poppy and Jacob lying on one another may have also been an exploration of their Oedipal phantasies, particularly as the incident took place on the parents bed.
Jacob would have been engaging in this interaction after having worked through many of his Oedipal phantasies and fears, whereas Poppy would only have started have to experience them. Would you like it if someone was kicking you whilst you were having your breakfast? Perhaps Jacob may have felt left out of the Oedipal configuration between Ellie and Poppy at this point.
This is something that Ellie reported being particularly challenging for both her and Kevin — she felt she needed someone to take over at times, perhaps due to the intensity of the feeds, and Kevin was left feeling isolated and not good enough. In contrast to this, during later observations when Poppy was drinking cows milk from a bottle, Jacob would take it from her when no one was watching and would drink it. On the other hand, Dunn and Layard state that the presence and development of a sibling relationship enables the child to be able to learn how to become empathetic towards others feeling.
Poppy then cried which led to Ellie re-entering the room and saying:. This is something Poppy did increasingly. For example, during observation eighty one This is something that was particularly prevalent during the second year of the observations, which may have been because Poppy was more physically able at this time, but perhaps it was also due to the baby having been relinquished, leaving Ellie to have more thinking space for both children, and consequently a reduction in competition for her attention.
The young child observation took place in a nursery school in a small and affluent village. The child observed, Kara, lives with her mother and father, both of whom work full-time, and her younger brother Seb who joined the nursery during her fourth and last year there. During the initial meeting, a member of staff mentioned that Kara struggled when her brother was first born and when he joined the nursery, being very clingy with her mother upon separation and then with the class adults once her mother had left.
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Perhaps the repeated struggle was linked to a repeated experience of being pushed out by Seb, especially as he joined the nursery at almost the same time as Kara began her transition to primary school. Two of the main themes that emerged during the observations were how Kara developed and maintained her peer relationships, and the way in which she engaged in these relationships to aid her exploration and resolution of the Oedipus complex. Stuart smiled at her and Kara wobbled side to side and pushed and pulled her arms in and out…Stuart then pulled up his t-shirt so that his tummy was showing and wiggled more vigorously: Kara was looking and laughing at him…Stuart started to run around the table and shelves with his tummy still showing, Kara followed him doing the same.
Three other children joined them in running around, although only one of them pulled up their top.
However, on this occasion, Kara did not dress and undress the Barbie dolls as she would normally, but she went to the box of Action Men, took one out, picked up a Barbie doll and made the dolls kiss and hold hands. Kara then looked up, and watched Aaron as he entered the reading corner and led face down on a pile of cushions:. Mrs Brown asked them to be gentle with each other, Kara replied that her little brother sits on her like this when they are at home.
This interaction placed Kara and Aaron in the role of a parental couple, which Aaron did not appear to be rejecting of, although he was not overtly encouraging either. Kara would usually seek to be the mummy and would compete with Charlotte the only other girl in her year for this role. Kara and Charlotte would also compete with one another when seeking the pre-occupation of the children and adults in class. For instance, during observation eight:. Kara lowered her head, put the horse down, picked up the Barbie next to her and started to gently brush its hair.
Furthermore, this interaction can be linked with Oedipal configurations as Kara is experiencing being isolated from the Oedipal coupling which at this point was Mrs Brown and Charlotte. Additionally, as Kara would often seek the Barbie dolls when she was feeling emotionally fragile or when the play became overwhelming, perhaps the Barbie doll represented her and through the process of gently brushing the dolls hair, Kara was looking after herself and making herself feel better.
As well as engaging with other children to explore some of her Oedipal phantasies, desires and anxieties, Kara would also use solitary play to make links with home and explore this within her family relationships.
For example, during observation nine Kara was playing with playdoh by separating one block into four sections, rolling them into balls and pressing them onto the table. Kara then:. The sense whilst watching Kara was that this play may have signified an internal struggle Kara was having to see if all the pieces of playdoh — representing each member of her family — could fit together. It is then, when she managed to place all pieces together that she divides them, i. This division could also be seen as a division into two Oedipal couplings; Kara and Daddy and Seb and Mummy.
When considering the emergence of the Oedipus complex, Klein states that:. Considering this, perhaps Kara was not only seeking a symbolic connection with her father, but also expressing a crossness at her father for giving her mother another baby; with her mother for taking it and with Seb for being it.
This experience was also mirrored at nursery when younger children began to start their transition into the class and the older children, Kara included, began transitioning to Primary school.go to site
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At this time, Kara would appear more visibly unsettled, for example, playing on her own with the Barbies more frequently; snuggling up on cushions; drinking from her bottle and being closer to the adults. All of these behaviours seemed to be consistent with the description given of Kara when Seb was born and when he joined the nursery. Therefore, perhaps this enabled Kara to get in touch with her own baby self, evoked from a fear of moving to Primary school and being forgotten by those she is leaving behind. Cassie was initially placed in care shortly after starting primary school and was placed at the therapeutic residential community after having several home and school placements due to her social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Cassie has one older and two younger birth siblings — her younger siblings were still living with her birth parents whilst she was placed with us. I became her key worker when she transitioned from the assessment house into a parallel house a few months after she joined the school.
Cassie was initially placed in care due to neglect — specifically relating to her need for medication — and being witness to domestic violence. Although Cassie was initially placed in foster care whilst her two sisters remained at home with her birth parents — her younger brother was not born yet — her older sister soon joined her in a foster placement . This was reinforced when her birth mother had a still born baby as Cassie would describe how the baby had died after she had held him although she had never actually met him. Furthermore, during observation two However, being placed separately to her sister and not being at home with her biological parents and younger siblings was equally challenging for Cassie.
For example, after a contact visit with her two sisters, Cassie said:.
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This could also have been influenced by the lack of engagement with her real father who was described as being distant, would not take part in any aspect of her care when younger and would either not attend contact with her or ignore her when he did. Perhaps with a father that was absent and a mother that was neglectful and rejecting, Cassie may have been attempting to enact an idealised relationship with a mother figure in order to counterbalance the reality.
An example of this was during an after school meeting in the house:. Another adult got up and followed her asking her to come and sit by them. Cassie sat next to them and was holding onto their arm with both of her hands, snuggling her head into their shoulder and making a squeaking noise. The adult was whispering to her in a calm tone, and she stopped squeaking. When another child Katie next to Cassie began to struggle, the adult supporting Cassie spoke to Katie to try and help her calm…Cassie started to rock back and forward whilst hitting herself in the head with one hand, biting her other arm and looking towards me.
The Importance of Sibling Relationships in Psychoanalysis
I do not feel that Cassie stopped biting herself because I had asked her to, but because I had offered her a direct link with an adult so she did not need to seek a connection in another way. For instance, when Cassie first began her placement, she would often engage in conflicts with other children during play times as she was unable to consider a compromise, only wanting to play the games she selected.
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This is something that was reported to be similar during her contact sessions with her siblings. For example, during her individual time, Cassie was discussing how difficult it felt for her to start at her new school and that she was worried about how to make friends:.