Dr Walker has an admirable depth and breadth of knowledge and experience in this field. Lindsey Williams, Family Court Assessment Service
Professional, comprehensive and responsive psychological services
0117 344 5101
Mr and Mrs Jones and their two children, Megan (11) and Rhys (7), had been referred for a psychological assessment following the children being taken into the care of the Local Authority under an Interim Care Order. The Local Authority was of the view that the parents were unable to provide good enough care in relation to the children and they were applying for permanent Care Orders to be granted by the Court. Specifically, there had been a history of domestic violence perpetrated against Mrs Jones by Mr Jones, to which the children had been exposed. Despite having separated, there was evidence that the parents had reunited on several occasions and that they had tried to hide this from the Local Authority, who were concerned about the risk of emotional and physical harm to the children. Megan was showing significant behavioural and emotional disturbance both at school and at her foster placement and Rhys was demonstrating global developmental delay.
The questions posed to the Psychologist related to the quality of attachment between the parents and their children, the psychological backgrounds and risk profiles of the parents, the emotional presentations and needs of the children and the parents’ capacity to understand the concerns of the Local Authority and to make the necessary changes for their children. The parents engaged in a full clinical interview and they were administered a range of psychometric measures. The children were seen on several occasions and they engaged in a play-based assessment with administration of psychometric instruments as well as other formal assessment tools. In addition, the children were observed in supervised contact sessions with each parent and the children’s Class Teachers, Social Worker and Foster Carer were interviewed regarding the children’s presentations and welfare.
The assessment revealed that both children were insecurely attached to their parents but both seemed to show preference for their mother. Megan appeared to be suffering from some symptoms of trauma, including sleep disturbance and violent play. Rhys seemed to be subdued with little ability to form bonds with adults and peers. Mr Jones had a history of brutality at the hands of his own father and his personality appeared to be dominated by rigid thinking, an inflexible set of rules regarding fairness and a preoccupation that his wife might be unfaithful to him. Mrs Jones also had a history of difficulties in her childhood including her mother being chronically depressed and her father behaving in a dominant and authoritarian manner over the family. Mrs Jones was found to have a dependent personality style and to fear making her own decisions or coping alone; this appeared to have been compounded by her relationship with Mr Jones. Despite this, there had been some evidence that through a close personal friendship, she had developed some capacity to remain separate from Mr Jones for longer periods of time and had started to talk about ‘fighting for the kids’.
It was concluded that both parents required therapeutic work to address the issues underpinning their difficulties in parenting. Sadly, Mr Jones was unable to accept the need to change and he continued to make attempts to reunite with Mrs Jones and to control her decisions. In contrast, Mrs Jones was able to engage with psychological therapy, starting with the origins of her dependence on others and moving onto a strengthening of her self-confidence. When this work was completed, Mrs Jones was then able to complete further therapeutic work enabling her to understand the impact of the domestic violence upon the children, their additional emotional and developmental needs and how best to meet their needs now and in the future.
Through additional therapeutic support themselves, Megan and Rhys were also able to make positive changes to their lives. Megan was able to express her feelings regarding her experiences with her parents and she started to become more settled as a result. Through Play Therapy, Rhys was also able to gain in confidence and some management advice to the school helped him to start to develop peer relationships and a presence within his social group. Over many months, Megan and Rhys were eventually rehabilitated to the care of their mother, who had taken out an Injunction against Mr Jones. The attachments between Mrs Jones and her children were observed to have improved considerably over the course of this treatment.
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Across the age range, Compass Psychological Services provide individualized therapeutic interventions that are based on thorough assessments, detailed formulations and up to date research evidence.Read more
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