SOCW 6060 Reflection Questions: The Johnson Family
SOCW 6060 Reflection Questions: The Johnson Family
- What specific intervention strategies (skills, knowledge, etc.) did you use to address this client situation?
I used anxiety-reducing strategies such as breathing exercises to help Talia regulate her physical responses to the memories of the sexual assault. I used education tools to help validate and normalize her reactions, sharing information on sexual assault trauma and PTSD. I used journaling, worksheets, and art to help her express her feelings in a safe manner when she felt she could not verbalize them. I worked to build a collaborative working relationship with her, spending a lot of time on building a rapport. SOCW 6060 Reflection Questions: The Johnson Family.
- Which theory or theories did you use to guide your practice?
I used empowerment theory to guide my practice. I let Talia guide the sessions, and together we decided on goals and objectives. I never pressed her to share her story and I worked to make the time together feel safe and supportive. I always let her know she was in charge of the session and the content. Cognitive theory was used to help her challenge her thoughts of self-blame. Survivors often blame themselves for what has happened and question what they did in the scenario to encourage the sexual assault.
- What were the identified strengths of the client(s)?
Talia was an intelligent, strong woman who worked hard at addressing what happened to her. She was physically active, had many strong friendships, and utilized her resources to the fullest extent. She had a loving mother and father who supported her through the process.
- What were the identified challenges faced by the client(s)?
She was experiencing strong feelings of anxiety and was predisposed to anxiety on her mother’s side of the family. She met with much skepticism about the sexual assault and was treated at times unfairly by friends and the hospital staff.
- What were the agreed-upon goals to be met to address the concern?
Talia wanted to feel better overall, but in particular she wanted to address her anxiety attacks. Together we created mini goals to help her manage her anxiety and find ways to express her feelings about what happened. Weekly, we would set up goals around her use of the journal, her breathing exercises, and running.
- Did you have to address any issues around cultural competence? Did you have to learn about this population/group prior to beginning your work with this client system? If so, what type of research did you do to prepare?
For this case, I needed to be aware of her age and development. I was also aware of the high rates of sexual assault on college campuses. I took into consideration her connection to her family of origin and her sorority sisters.
- What local, state, or federal policies could (or did) affect this case?
The university’s policy for addressing sexual assault cases could and did affect the situation. A dean is assigned the case and makes his or her determination after hearing from both sides. Had the dean not found Eric guilty, Talia would have had to be on campus for a year with a man who sexually assaulted her. Further, it was required that Talia be face-to-face with Eric in the dean’s office. She then had to state the charges against him. This could potentially re-victimize and traumatize her. Lastly, Talia’s assault had to be reported to the university’s campus safety administrator in accordance with the Cleary Act (a federal regulation).
- How would you advocate for social change to positively affect this case?
Too often people believe the rape myths that are perpetuated in our society. I would strive to educate people about sexual assault and work to eliminate these myths. I would also advocate for education in hospitals and the law and court system around sexual assault. Research indicates that many survivors do not press charges or drop charges because they feel like they are being treated unfairly, judged, and re-victimized by the very people who are supposed to be there to help them. SOCW 6060 Reflection Questions: The Johnson Family.
- Were there any legal or ethical issues present in the case? If so, what were they and how were they addressed?
The only legal aspects pertained to Talia’s decision not to press charges against Eric. My role was to support her decision and not try to persuade her to do something she did not feel comfortable doing. While I may believe that perpetrators of sexual assault should be held accountable, I also recognize that the process of a court hearing can be quite difficult for survivors of sexual assault. While a survivor’s past sexual experiences cannot be brought in as evidence because of the rape shield laws, often the questions are accusatory, humili-ating, and intimidating.
- How can evidence-based practice be integrated into this situation?
When working with victims of trauma, there are several scales that can be used to measure a client’s change in emotional state. A scale for PTSD, depression, or quality of life could be incorporated each month.
- Is there any additional information that is important to the case?
The majority of Talia’s friends were supportive and rallied around her, but there were a few people who blamed her for the assault and Eric’s suspension. Some of her sorority sisters attempted to get her thrown out of Kappa Delta. The couple of times that Talia tried to resume going out with friends on the weekends at the local bars she was verbally accosted by Eric’s fraternity brothers. She decided to leave the sorority and ceased going to the bars near the school. Eric’s family got a lawyer to fight the suspension, but withdrew the case after another student came forward to the administration and said he had raped her also.
- Describe any additional personal reflections about this case.
I truly enjoyed working with Talia. She came to sessions motivated to address her feelings. While she at times was unable to verbalize her emotions, she was willing to try alternative forms of therapy to explore her feelings. I am particularly proud of her desire to be part of the SART team. I think she will be a great addition to our team. We talked about her readiness to meet with someone who experienced a sexual assault, and it seemed that she had fully integrated what happened and wanted to help others through the process as well. She knows that if in the future she has any difficulties processing a hotline call that I am available to support her.