n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Reventing a cycle of disruptive behaviour in girls : group counselling across cultures




In his last writings Freud said that trauma in early life affects all vulnerable humans because the ego is "feeble, immature and incapable of resistance" (Freud in Solomon & Siegel 2003:110). Literature (Phillips 2010) confirms that children who were exposed to abuse or neglect need to improve their self-concepts, develop new goals and practise and develop relational skills. The aim of this study was to introduce group therapy as method to heal the body and the mind after experiences of trauma and to provide guidelines towards understanding the needs of girls exposed to dysfunctional and abusive families in preventing a cycle of disruptive behaviour. In this research individual therapy sessions were enhanced by therapeutic group work in preventing a cycle of disruptive behaviour.

The process of children identifying with the aggressor when there was family violence is a recurring theme in family abuse research. Female learners between 10 - 12 years (late childhood to early adolescence) were selected for this study. They were identified by their teachers because of behavioural and learning problems and referred for psychological counselling. An explanatory case study approach was used in an attempt to describe the depth of experiences of these girls, and why these experiences have impacted their development, behaviour and relationships. During individual counselling sessions and pre-selection screening (Rule & John 2011), criteria were developed to select participants. Multiple forms of data collection, such as observations, videotapes of group sessions, and conversations with teachers and parents were employed while data were collected before and during group sessions.
The results revealed that group work was effective and received positively by the participants. Group work with girls can be utilised in schools by teachers, counsellors, trauma frontline workers or anyone who gives related support. Group work, support girls to change negative behaviour, to define positive life goals, improves self-image, helps to understand own feelings regarding past experiences and to build positive relationships.


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