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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 93054 Find in a Library
Title: Holding Environment - Breaking the Cycle of Abuse
Journal: Social Casework  Volume:64  Issue:5  Dated:(May 1983)  Pages:283-290
Author(s): N Dougherty
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A treatment program for abusing parents and their children attempted to replicate the warm, accepting atmosphere of a healthy parent-child relationship through a discussion group, a parent education program, a therapeutic nursery, and a low-cost lunch.
Abstract: Abusing parents often come from homes that failed to offer them a holding environment -- when a secure, nurturing parent recognizes the child as an individual, both teaching and setting limits as the child moves towards independence -- and consequently react to their own children in a depersonalized way, treating them as need-satisfying objects or split-off 'bad' self-object representations. Two agencies in Muscogee County, Ga., one State-supported and mandatory and the other voluntary and church-related, used holding environment theories to establish the Family Services Program. After mothers and their children arrived at 10 a.m., a short play period allowed staff to observe parent-child interactions. The parents then left the children in the nursery and participated in a group discussion of individual and childrearing problems. Most participants were very action oriented and impulsive, rarely aware of their own feelings and unable to express their needs directly, and had hostile-dependent ties with their families. Because they also tended to have very poor self-esteem, craft groups provided opportunities for adult socializing and development of ego-building skills. Parent classes were established because many participants were ignorant of age-specific and appropriate behavior and used discipline to control and subjugate rather than teach. The nursery created a loosely structured, accepting environment which offered the preschool children stimulation and security. The children were delayed developmentally and had high anxiety levels. A lunch program offered gratification of oral dependence and a casual atmosphere where adults socialized while supervising their children. Of the 18 families enrolled in the program, 12 made significant improvements in their relationships with their children. The children's sociability, willingness to share, impulse control, and verbal skills also improved.
Index Term(s): Abusing parents; Child abuse situation remedies; Family counseling; Georgia (USA); Parent education
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