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Running head: PROGRAM AND MISSION ALIGNMENT
1
PROGRAM AND MISSION ALIGNMENT
4
Program and Mission Alignment
Student Name
Institutional Affiliation
Winthrop University aims at offering personalized challenging,
graduate, and continuing professional education programs of
national caliber. Doing a degree in communication sciences and
disorder does not align to the university’s mission since the
program is not offered at the university anymore. The program
started its closure while I was still in school, which was an
indication of its coming to extinction. The program in
communication sciences and disorders is also not part of the
long-term mission of the university of achieving national stature
as a competitive and distinctive, co-educational, public,
residential comprehensive, and value-oriented institution. The
program has been closed, which is an implication of the failure
to meet the required standards to provide competitive skills to
its students. Communication sciences and disorders program
does not meet the students’ needs of meeting the challenges of
the contemporary world by offering them the ability to
synthesize knowledge to solve complex challenges.
Winthrop University prides itself in offering value-based
education, which has shaped the success of the university.
Closing the program shows that it does not contribute to the
overall mission of the university, which contradicts the
provisions of the university, which means that the program does
not contribute to the values of the university. Any program that
does not contribute towards the achievement of the university’s
mission should be scrapped off so that only those programs that
have a bearing on the university mission are considered.
However, the university needs to evaluate the contribution of
the course towards the overall mission of the university. A
speech pathologist is concerned with treating speech disorders
among people suffering from such problems. The university, on
the other hand, is concerned with training people who can treat
speech disorders in society. The university, therefore, is a
bridge between the prevailing challenge in society and the
possible solutions. As such, speech pathologist is an important
program that the university should reestablish.
References
Website: https://www.winthrop.edu/
Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 7:107, 2012
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1540-1383 print/1540-1391 online
DOI: 10.1080/15401383.2012.657597
CREATING SPACE FOR CONNECTION:
A COLUMN FOR CREATIVE PRACTICE
This column is designed to underscore relationally based
creative inter-
ventions used by counselors and psychotherapists in their
practices. Our
intention is to provide examples of novel, innovative ways of
working with
clients in their efforts to deepen self-awareness and their
connections with
others. Although the interventions within this column will be
presented in a
linear “how to” manner, an essential premise of this column is
that inter-
ventions submitted for publication have a contextual and
relational basis.
Basic to this column is the therapeutic focus of working through
latent hurts
and impediments to our clients’ health and happiness. Client
goals generally
involve creating the requisite emotional space needed for
genuine relational
choice for connection to manifest. If you have created a useful
therapy tool,
or if you have adapted an existing creative tool that you would
like to
share with readers, please follow submission guidelines in the
author infor-
mation packet available at
http://www.creativecounselor.org/Journal.html.
107
Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 7:108–121, 2012
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1540-1383 print/1540-1391 online
ArtBreak: A Creative Group Counseling
Program for Children
KATHERINE ZIFF, LORI PIERCE, and SUSAN JOHANSON
Athens City School District, The Plains, Ohio, USA
MARGARET KING
Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA
This article describes the pilot of a school-based creative
group-counseling program for children called ArtBreak, a
choice-based studio art experience based on the restorative pos-
sibilities of art making delineated in the expressive therapies
continuum (ETC; Hinz, 2009; Kagin & Lusebrink, 1978). The
ETC
features a developmental hierarchy in relation to how art is cre-
ated and the therapeutic properties of associated media.
Learning
from the pilot suggests the ETC is a valuable framework for
support-
ing groups of children in kinesthetic, affective, and cognitive
ways.
The article also includes suggestions regarding logistics,
commu-
nity, and future documentation and research.
KEYWORDS children, art, group counseling, expressive
therapies
continuum, creative counseling, creativity
Schools offer art making to students in a variety of formats and
for mul-
tiple purposes. Art educators teach children about techniques,
materials,
processes, art appreciation, and art history; they also encourage
play, cre-
ativity, and imagination (Szekely, 2006). Art making can be a
support to
classroom teaching: The ateliers of Reggio Emilia schools and
the curricula
of Waldorf schools are art based (Gandini, Hill, Cadwell, &
Schwall, 2005;
Pelo, 2007). Also, North Carolina and Oklahoma’s system of A+
Schools
is a reform model of arts integration (President’s Committee on
the Arts
and the Humanities, 2011). School counselors use visual art to
provide
creative counseling in individual or themed group settings
(Allan, 1988;
Address correspondence to Katherine Ziff, Athens City School
District, 25 S. Plains Road,
The Plains, OH 45780, USA. E-mail: [email protected]
108
ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 109
Gladding, 2011; Somody & Hobbs, 2006/2007). Art therapists
sometimes
practice in schools, their work supporting student mental health
(Essex,
Frostig, & Hertz, 1996; Malchiodi, 1996; Pleasant-Metcalf &
Rosal, 1997;
Rosal, McCulloch-Vislisel, & Neece, 1997). Visual arts in
schools is valuable
in encouraging school engagement and community, creativity,
collabora-
tion, innovative thinking, and attention (Kosik, 2009;
President’s Committee
on the Arts and the Humanities, 2011).
ArtBreak, a program grounded in the therapeutic use of studio
art, is
a choice-based studio art experience for children based on the
restorative
possibilities of art making delineated in the expressive therapies
contin-
uum (ETC; Kagin & Lusebrink, 1978). The pilot program took
place in
two elementary schools in rural Southeastern Ohio from 2009
through 2011.
ArtBreak was planned and facilitated by an elementary school
counselor in
consultation with school psychologists and administrators and a
university
professor.
RATIONALE
ArtBreak shares boundaries with both art therapy and art
education,
although it is neither. It incorporates the ETC as a guide for
choosing mate-
rials for the studio, offering them to children, and thinking
about what
children are accomplishing as they choose and work with
various media.
Grounded in the ETC and studio art, ArtBreak is a group-based
creative
counseling program designed to help students build social
skills, develop
problem-solving abilities, and relax and express feelings.
The ETC is a theoretical framework for engaging the expressive
and
integrative potential of creativity through the use and properties
of visual
art. Art therapists Sandra Kagin and Vija Lusebrink introduced
the ETC
in 1978; it has been elaborated by Lisa Hinz (2009). The ETC
features
a developmental hierarchy associated with how information is
processed
in relation to how art is created in a therapeutic context. ETC
delineates
three general restorative goals of associated media: (a) Fluid
media like
watercolor, chalk pastels, and finger paint support
kinesthetic/sensory goals
such as relaxation and expression of feelings; (b) more resistive
media
like colored pencils, crayons, markers, clay, and tempera paint
support
perceptual/affective goals such as improving cognition,
increasing empathic
understanding, identifying emotions, and cause and effect; and
(c) resistive
media like collage, sculpture with found and recycled materials,
and illus-
trated books support cognitive/symbolic goals such as
developing problem-
solving skills and identifying and integrating strengths (Hinz,
2009). The
third cognitive/symbolic area of the ETC is further
differentiated by Project
Zero research, which identifies eight habits of mind supported
by studio art,
including development of craft, ability to engage and persist,
envisioning,
110 K. Ziff et al.
TABLE 1 The Expressive Therapies Continuum: Therapeutic
Goals and Suggested Materials
Continuum Level Therapeutic Goals Suggested Materials
I. Kinesthetic/Sensory Relax Soft clay
Express feelings Finger paint
Watercolor
Chalk pastels
II. Perceptual/Affective Improve cognition Tempera paint
Empathic understanding Crayons
Identify feelings Oil pastels
Improve social skills Drawing materials
Improve attention
Understand cause and effect
III. Cognitive/Symbolic Develop problem-solving
abilities
Identify and integrate
strengths
Collage
Sculpture with repurposed
materials
Clay
Mask making
Markers
Art making with two or more
steps
Illustrated books and narratives
Note. Adapted from Hinz (2009).
expression, observation, and reflection (Winner, Hetland,
Veenema,
Sheridan, & Palmer, 2006). Table 1 shows the three levels of
the ETC.
Studio art has long been associated with psychological healing
and
regeneration (Adamson & Timlin, 1990; Essex et al., 1996;
Moon, 2002).
Douglas and Jaquith (2009) associated choice-based art in the
classroom
with building skills of problem solving, working habits,
reflecting, connect-
ing, constructing knowledge, and problem finding. Boldt and
Brooks (2006)
described how art making by groups of students builds
community, supports
social skills, and fosters belonging, mastery, independence, and
generosity.
Art making can reduce stress, and for children experiencing
cognitive, physi-
cal, or emotional stress, a source of relaxation at school can
support learning
(DeLue, 1999).
In studio art therapy, art making is central to the theoretical
approach,
conceptual understanding of clients and their art making, design
and cre-
ation of therapeutic work space, and interactions and
communications about
the process (Moon, 2002). Likewise, an art studio orientation in
which stu-
dents are supported in their ideas, intentions, decisions, and
choices is
different from the use of art-based protocols for assessment,
diagnosis, and
treatment. In such an environment where work is facilitated
rather than
directed, authentic growth and learning can take place
(Adamson & Timlin,
1990; McLennan, 2010; Rogers, 1989). ArtBreak offers students
an opportu-
nity to pursue independent, choice-based art making according
to their own
ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 111
interests, in a studio furnished with materials and media that
reflect and
support all three levels of the ETC framework.
ASSUMPTIONS
ArtBreak is based on the following assumptions:
1. Art making supports children in expressive, affective, and
cognitive ways
as delineated in the ETC.
2. Art making in a group builds community and develops social
skills.
3. Art making in school increases student engagement.
4. Art making supports creativity and divergent thinking.
ARTBREAK PILOT OBJECTIVES
Our pilot program included five objectives:
1. Learn whether the ETC is applicable to a school-based group
studio art
format and, if so, how.
2. Provide an opportunity for students to build social skills,
develop
problem-solving abilities, and relax and express feelings as they
choose.
3. Learn whether the logistics of ArtBreak (weekly 30-minute
groups) are
feasible in a school setting.
4. Create forms and documentation systems for ArtBreak.
5. Identify other learning from the pilot.
PILOT PROJECT
In its 1st year, the program served 36 children in six groups in
one school.
The following year, ArtBreak expanded to serve 44 children in
two schools
in a total of eight groups. Each group, composed of
kindergarten through
sixth-grade students of diverse ages, genders, and skills, worked
together
for 30 minutes per week throughout the school year in an open
art studio
format.
Process
We followed a simple framework for implementing ArtBreak,
available to
any practitioner in the field wishing to implement the program.
1. Begin by setting up the art studio; the size and facilities of
the space
determine the parameters of what can be offered. A room with a
sink and
112 K. Ziff et al.
shelves can accommodate many options. A very small space can
work
by having students build sketchbooks to work in and keeping
handy a
bucket of clean water, damp rags, and a pan for things to be
washed
later.
2. Using the ETC (see Table 1) as a guide, stock the studio
space with at least
two kinds of materials from each of the three areas of the ETC,
choosing
media with which you are familiar. For ideas on acquiring and
setting up
materials, consultation with a school art educator is helpful.
Douglas and
Jaquith (2009) also provide advice on how to set up art centers.
3. Introduce teachers, families, and administrators to the
ArtBreak pro-
gram by inviting teachers to visit the studio and offering art
materials
as door prizes, hosting an open studio for families at fall
parent–
teacher conferences, and/or announcing the program in the
school
newsletter.
4. Invite teachers to refer students and obtain written
parent/guardian per-
mission for students to participate. We developed a referral
form (see
Appendix) based upon the ETC.
5. Begin the groups by introducing new materials and processes
as students
ask or seem ready for them. An ongoing list of “things we need”
posted in
the studio is a helpful guide for introducing new materials.
Daily written
reflections by the practitioner are also a good support for
deciding about
new materials and problem solving.
Our ArtBreak groups were organized and facilitated by the
school counselor
whose role was to model problem solving; demonstrate the use
and care
of materials; teach skills such as clean-up; introduce new tools;
encourage
and model supportive behavior, supportive language, and other
prosocial
skills; keep time; and make decisions about introducing new
materials and
processes.
Students were referred to the groups by their teachers, a school-
based intervention team, community mental health
professionals, or families.
Students were introduced to ArtBreak in a contained format to
help them
learn the choice-based format. For the first two sessions, the
counselor
placed an appealing object (e.g., a toy dragon, a clay turtle, an
orchid in
bloom) on the table and invited students to create an image of it
with media
of their choice. Students then continued with their own choice
of media and
projects. More art materials, tools, and processes at all three
levels of the
ETC were introduced to the ArtBreak groups when students
seemed ready
or when students asked for them. Some students began making
art on cafe-
teria trays and chose from a basic set of media from all three
sections of the
ETC: fluid media such as finger paint, more resistive materials
such as oil
pastels and colored pencils, and very resistive media such as
markers. Other
groups began by building sketchbooks from repurposed
cardboard, filling
them with papers of their choice, and using media from all
levels of the
ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 113
ETC such as finger paint, water color, chalk pastels, tempera
paint, crayons,
markers, collage, and “pop-up” creations.
Documentation of ArtBreak included the counselor’s weekly
notes on
each child’s work, including choice of media, the child’s
description, and
group process. Notes were taken by hand during ArtBreak and
transcribed
on a laptop. At the end of the day, the counselor wrote
reflections about
materials, questions, problems and challenges, ideas for
improvements, com-
munications, and collaborations. The counselor also
photographed student
work. Some parents requested electronic portfolios of their
children’s work,
which was accomplished via e-mail.
Each ArtBreak session had its own rhythm and challenges.
Following
are composite vignettes illustrating two very different sessions.
The fol-
lowing scenario occurred during the ninth session while
children worked
independently with different media.
Six children, ages 5 through 11 years, rush into the school
counselor’s
room and dive into the apron box for smocks. It is time for
ArtBreak in
this rural elementary school. Two students head for the back
table where
their robots are ready for them; they have been under
construction for
several weeks now, and today the students would decide to work
on the
problem of how to create and attach moveable arms. A second
grader
circles the room a time or two before settling on finger paint,
choos-
ing glossy paper and a selection of paints, dampening the paper
with
a sponge, and carefully squeezing out globs of paint, while
exclaim-
ing over the bright hues and the satisfyingly squishy feel of the
paint.
A fourth grader reaches for her cardboard and duct tape
construction
and continues to grapple with how she will make a sturdy and
mean-
ingful object. Another child walks about the room eyeing paints,
boxes
of collage materials, and the construction corner stacked with
cardboard
and other repurposed objects. This child selects a 5-gallon
plastic jug,
mixes tempera paint, and covers the jug with a turquoise and
green
under-the-seascape. Filling the jug with water makes it hard to
handle,
so a handful of glass pebbles serves as sea water. A sixth child
works
carefully on a valentine collage for a sibling. ‘Where’s the
music?’ one
child shouts. Oops—the counselor forgot to turn it on, and she
hits
the start button for the jazz CD the group has become
accustomed to.
The children work steadily for half an hour, talking among
themselves
and occasionally offering announcements to the group. The
counselor
moves around the room, supporting problem solving by offering
tools,
assistance with hole punching, towels when water spills, and a
basket of
new string and yarn. The counselor occasionally pauses to make
notes
about what the children are doing and saying. The children try
to eke
out a few more minutes past the half hour of allotted work time
and
then help with a whirlwind clean-up. Art is stacked on a rack to
dry, and
the counselor takes 5 minutes to write down notes about the
group’s
process and reminders about materials or room rearrangements
needed.
114 K. Ziff et al.
Morning ArtBreak ends; the counselor gets the room ready for
the rest of
the day, which will include an afternoon session with a different
group.
In the next scenario, upper-elementary boys are in their 12th
week of
ArtBreak. By this time, the group had formed a working
community, and all
elected to embark on sewing projects.
Six boys enter the room and walk around, examining the latest
addi-
tions to the cardboard sculpture center and plunging their hands
into the
giant bowl of buttons. The counselor points out a shelf newly
stocked
with fabric, and there are exclamations—the boys have been
anxious
to sew for 2 weeks, ever since one of them fashioned large
pieces of
fleece scraps into a lap blanket for his teacher. All of them
decide to
work on fabric projects and they rummage through wool
remnants, flan-
nel yardage, cotton batting, threads, and needles. They decide to
make
pillows of varying sizes, and chaos ensues with cries such as:
‘How do
you thread the needle?’; ‘How do I knot the thread?; ‘Will you
help me
straighten out my pillow?’; ’I need help! These scissors won’t
cut this
material’; ‘I asked first for help!’; and ‘No, I did!’ One boy has
an outburst
of impatience and retreats to the counselor’s desk to recover,
rejoining
the sewing table after a few minutes. The counselor gives a
brief demon-
stration of a running stitch (wishing she had purchased thicker
thread
that would tangle less easily). Ten minutes of calm descend
upon the
room, the boys carefully stitching. ‘I thought sewing was girly
but it’s
not,’ one of them offers to the group. ‘We like this,’ a few boys
reply.
‘So shorter stitches make the sewing stronger, don’t they?’
notes another
student. ‘You know, this is relaxing,’ declares the student who
had the
impatient outburst. Then, another rush of calls for assistance
occurs as
the boys hurry to finish up their projects so they can take them
home
that day. A bag of polyester batting is passed around, and
pillows of
cotton flannel, calico, and fake fur ranging in size from 6 to 18
inches
long are stuffed, stitched, and tried out. One boy shouts with
frustration
about finding a way to bring his completed cardboard structure
from
the previous week safely home on the bus; another student
comes to
his aid, rummaging in the sculpture center for just the right size
box.
The boys rush back to their classrooms to get ready to go home
for
the day. The counselor sits down and thinks about how she
might have
created a more orderly introduction to sewing. The next day, the
school
psychologist, after listening to an account of the sewing group,
reflected
that the session was a model for the boys in moving from chaos
to calm
productivity.
ADAPTATIONS
ArtBreak could be offered to children by classroom teachers and
in other
settings such as libraries and mental health centers. ArtBreak
could also be
ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 115
adapted for middle and high schools. During the pilot, teachers
requested
an ArtBreak for themselves, which could be offered on a drop-
in basis. The
counseling center of George Washington University offered to
students an
ArtBreak program of structured art-based activities to support
creativity and
mental health (Gladding, 2011). Campus programs could
include an ongoing
ArtBreak in a studio format based on the atelier model offered
by the Medical
College of Pennsylvania (Bartley, 1997) to its students in a
course entitled
Medicine and Art.
REQUIREMENTS AND LIMITATIONS
ArtBreak is situated in a school-based group-art studio
environment facili-
tated by a school counselor; participating students have been
referred for
support with goals listed on the referral form (see Appendix)
aligned with
the ETC. Therefore, ethical considerations addressed included
(a) necessity
for written parent/guardian permission for students to
participate; (b) pri-
vacy and confidentiality related to student work; (c) written
parent/family
permission for use of student work in public presentations; (d)
considera-
tions for managing requests from education professionals to
visit an ArtBreak
group; and (e) a working knowledge of the ETC and its
associated art-
making materials by the ArtBreak facilitator. Space is also a
consideration.
A space with no running water needs cleaning, a container of
water for
watercolor paints, and a bucket for used brushes. A small room
can accom-
modate ArtBreak with groups of three to four children and
creative use of
space. Funds are necessary for many of the art supplies needed,
though
construction/sculpture and collage materials can be obtained
free from a
variety of sources.
DISCUSSION
ETC
Learning from the pilot program encompassed three areas: the
ETC, com-
munity, and logistics. In regard to the ETC, ArtBreak students
worked at
all three levels of the ETC. Figure 1 shows kinesthetic
enjoyment of paint.
In Figure 2, a student has used collage and pastels to express a
relationship,
a function of the perceptual/affective level of the ETC. Figure 3
illustrates
use of construction materials and multistep problem-solving
processes at the
cognitive end of the ETC.
Some children spent months using the same medium. Others
began at
one end of the continuum and moved to the other end (e.g., from
chalk
pastels to multistep sculptures or from markers and construction
to finger
paint). Teachers referred students to ArtBreak for reasons at all
three levels
116 K. Ziff et al.
FIGURE 1 Fluid media can encourage tactile expressiveness.
The Garden of Rain, watercolor
spattered on paper. Printed with permission.
FIGURE 2 Media with some resistiveness can encourage
exploration of relationships and
cause and effect. Earth With Ocean, Fish, and Moon, collage
with paper and chalk pastels.
Printed with permission.
of the ETC. Referral reasons for the 44 students in the 2010–
2011 program
were: kinesthetic/sensory reasons, such as relaxation, for 14
students;
perceptual/affective reasons, such as improving attention and
social skills,
for 25 students; and cognitive/symbolic support, such as
integrating personal
strengths or improving problem-solving skills, for 5 students.
Of the 44 stu-
dents, 31 were boys and 13 were girls. ArtBreak supported some
students in
making progress on referral goals. Some, referred to ArtBreak
for a needed
break from the academic or social demands of the classroom,
found the
group a relaxing experience. Several children with social skills
goals became
more comfortable with new processes and new people, and they
later
ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 117
FIGURE 3 Resistive media can encourage creative problem
solving. School of the Future With
Roof That Opens, cardboard, tempera paint, yarn. Printed with
permission.
demonstrated the ability to engage in meaningful social
interactions in the
group and in the classroom. In several cases, students made
great improve-
ments in prosocial behaviors in both the group and classroom
settings.
A child with behavior goals became positively engaged in
ArtBreak—
completing work and offering to help others—as well as in the
classroom.
A child who was referred to develop skills of concentration
worked
with steady focus in ArtBreak, carefully making cardboard
constructions
meaningful to him. His teacher later noted increased focus in
the classroom.
Community
In regard to community, the ArtBreak groups became supportive
commu-
nities where students felt safe to explore pursuits of their own
choosing.
Students helped each other solve problems, practiced and
developed pos-
itive social skills in the groups, learned how to be flexible and
tolerate
frustration, and made friends. We found that mixing ages in the
groups
offered advantages by freeing students from preexisting
classroom-based
expectations and friendships.
The ArtBreak pilot flourished with the support of a community
of adults
inside and outside the school district. Teachers, the school
intervention
team, community mental health specialists, and families
referred students for
118 K. Ziff et al.
participation. Students also referred themselves, and ArtBreak
participants
referred their friends. School art educators helped identify
resources for sup-
plies, and students brought to ArtBreak the skills they learned
in their art
classes. Principals and school district administrators provided
funds for key
supplies and materials. School psychologists collaborated
during all steps
of the ArtBreak pilot. A university faculty member provided
consultation
and served as a writing and research collaborator. School staff
as well as
local business establishments donated materials for students to
use for art
making.
Logistics
With regard to logistics, we learned that although the half-hour
format fits
well within the context of a busy school day, it is a bare
minimum amount
of time for students to decide upon and begin a project. Some
students
embarked on complex projects requiring multiple sessions, but
no matter
what the project, a half hour seems to be a minimum for
students to have
a satisfying experience. Though students are taught clean-up
skills, there is
usually little time for thorough clean up in a 30-minute period.
Therefore, the
counselor needs additional time after each group to complete
the cleaning
process. Some students, though, seemed to find cleaning up
meaningful,
especially when it involved running water. Finding time in the
counselor’s
day to offer enough ArtBreak sessions to meet demand was a
challenge.
Finally, acquisition of materials, especially keeping the
sculpture center well
stocked with cardboard boxes and other repurposed items, is a
continuing
process requiring time and ingenuity.
CONCLUSION
The ETC is a valuable framework for selecting and providing
media in
our ArtBreak studio. It is also a useful guide for reflecting upon
art made
by students and deciding about materials that should be
introduced. The
ETC provides a practical structure for referring students for
participation in
ArtBreak. ArtBreak also seems to support sensory, affective,
and cognitive
development of its participants.
Our documentation of the ArtBreak pilot generated a
considerable
quantity of materials: photographs, hand-written reflections,
and notes on
conversations with teachers and administrators, children, and
families. This
process of reflection and documentation helped guide the work
through
the school year. Counselors or others setting up a similar
program should
plan for daily time to reflect and document their work. It would
be helpful
also to set up a structure for assessing each student’s progress
on referral
goals.
ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 119
REFERENCES
Adamson, E., & Timlin, J. (1990). Art as healing. Boston, MA:
Coventure.
Allan, J. (1988). Inscapes of the child’s world. Dallas, TX:
Spring Publications.
Bartley, M. (1997). Creativity and medicine: An atelier in
medical school.
International Journal of Arts Medicine, 5(2), 36–39.
Boldt, R., & Brooks, C. (2006). Creative arts: Strengthening
academics and building
community with students at risk. Reclaiming Children and
Youth, 14, 223–227.
DeLue, C. H. (1999). Physiological effects of creating
mandalas. In C. Malchiodi,
(Ed.), Medical art therapy with children (pp. 33–49). London,
UK: Jessica
Kingsley.
Douglas, K., & Jaquith, D. (2009). Engaging learners through
art making: Choice-
based art education in the classroom. New York, NY: Teachers
College Press.
Essex, M., Frostig, K., & Hertz, J. (1996). In the service of
children: Art and expressive
therapies in public schools. Art Therapy: Journal of the
American Art Therapy
Association, 14(1), 181–190.
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Katherine Ziff is a School Counselor at Athens City School
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ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 121
APPENDIX
ArtBreak Referral Form
Student’s Name: ________________ Classroom Teacher:
_______________
Primary Reason for Referral Other
Reasons
(check one) (check as many as
apply)
Kinesthetic/sensory reasons for referral
Express feelings: is sad......................
..................................................( ) (
)........................................................
Express feelings: is angry.................
..................................................( ) (
)........................................................
Express feelings: is upset.................
..................................................( ) (
)........................................................
Needs a chance to relax....................
..................................................( ) (
)........................................................
Needs a break from academic
demands...................................( ) (
)........................................................
Needs a break from social
demands...................................( ) (
)........................................................
Perceptual/affective reasons for referral
Develop empathic understanding
for self or others.......................( ) (
)........................................................
Identify feelings in self and
others........................................( ) (
)........................................................
Understand cause and effect.............
..................................................( ) (
)........................................................
Support social skills...........................
..................................................( ) (
)........................................................
Support attention and focus..............
..................................................( ) (
)........................................................
Cognitive/symbolic reasons for referral
Support problem-solving
skills..........................................( ) (
)........................................................
Identify and integrate personal
strengths...................................( ) (
)........................................................
Details or other reason for referral:
Note. Referral form developed by Katherine Ziff based upon the
ETC framework as presented in Hinz
(2009).
Copyright of Journal of Creativity in Mental Health is the
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articles for individual use.
Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 8:395–415, 2013
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1540-1383 print/1540-1391 online
DOI: 10.1080/15401383.2013.844660
CREATING SPACE FOR CONNECTION: A COLUMN FOR
CREATIVE PRACTICE
Counseling Groups: A Creative Strategy
Increasing Children of Incarcerated Parents’
Sociorelational Interactions
ANGELICA LOPEZ
The Village South/WestCare, Miami, Florida, USA
ISAAC BURT
Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA
Children of incarcerated parents are at a greater risk for devel-
oping social and relational issues due to negative socialization.
By using a creative integration of imagery, bibliotherapy, and
tra-
ditional group counseling, this intervention addresses children’s
relational and social competencies. The purpose of this article is
to provide mental health counselors with a creative, pragmatic
approach to use with youth struggling with relational issues.
The
brief, 6-week intervention outlined in this article may benefit
chil-
dren both socially and behaviorally. Improvement in social and
relational competencies helps youth form healthy relationships
in
the future.
KEYWORDS parental incarceration, children, counseling group,
social and relational abilities, group intervention, creativity in
counseling
During the last decade, incarceration has risen considerably due
to a num-
ber of risk factors such as poverty, low parental education, and
absence
of parental figures (Harper & McLanahan, 2004). The dramatic
growth in
Address correspondence to Angelica Lopez, The Village
South/WestCare, 169 East Flagler
Street, Suite 1300, Miami, FL 33131, USA. E-mail:
[email protected]
395
396 A. Lopez and I. Burt
the number of parents being held in state and federal prisons is
of par-
ticular concern. For example, Glaze and Maruschak (2008)
reported a 79%
increase in the number of parents being held in state and federal
prisons
from 1991 to 2007, while custodial populations grew by 92%.
Furthermore,
in midyear 2007, 52% of state and 63% of federal inmates
reported hav-
ing at least one child younger than the age of 18 (Glaze &
Maruschak,
2008). Unfortunately, children who witness their parent’s arrest
and con-
viction are the ones left with the complications of putting their
life back
together. Usually referred to as the hidden or invisible victims,
these children
are understudied and underserved, making them an extremely
vulnerable
population (Miller, 2006).
Initially confused by their parent’s absence, most children
experience a
wide range of emotions and behaviors (Geller, Garfinkel,
Cooper, & Mincy,
2009). For example, some boys may display rebellious, angry,
or undisci-
plined behaviors such as acting out and getting into fights to
solicit attention
(Burt & Butler, 2011). Other boys may exhibit shyness, anxiety,
para-
noia, and reticence, particularly around adults (Davies,
Brazzell, La Vigne,
& Shollenberger, 2008). Additionally, two of the most common
emotions
that plague children of incarcerated parents are embarrassment
and shame
(Miller, 2006). Increased embarrassment and shame affect
children’s social
and relational development with peers and adults. Consequently,
Miller
(2006) reported that some youth go as far as shutting down to
avoid talk-
ing about their parent’s incarceration. It is also common for
many children
to lie to protect themselves from emotional pain and social
isolation. Lying
then becomes a secondary habit that may enter into adulthood
and cause
further social and relational problems (Johnston, 1995).
Succinctly stated, a
number of harmful issues negatively amalgamate to affect
children’s social
and relational abilities due to parental incarceration (Miller,
2006).
A direct consequence resulting from the preceding factors is
that chil-
dren of incarcerated parents are often apprehensive to create
social bonds,
as they fear others may become aware of their family status.
The result is
that these children oftentimes find themselves feeling alone
with few, if any,
people with whom they can relate or talk to (Nesmith &
Ruhland, 2008;
Phillips & Gates, 2011). Further, Phillips and Gates (2011)
identified the fear
children experience as a type of stigmatization. According to
Phillips and
Gates, stigmatization is the process of having negative
characteristics applied
to a person. Consequently, these negative attributes result in
devaluation,
stereotyping, and discriminatory treatment. Isolation begins to
develop, and
detachment from others inhibits children from forming social
ties and bonds
(Miller, 2006). For example, previous researchers found that
children worry
about how others view them after learning about their situation
(Phillips &
Gates, 2011). Worry and anxiety combine, leading to social fear
and loss of
social and relational competencies.
Children of Incarcerated Parents 397
LOSS OF SOCIAL AND RELATIONAL COMPETENCIES
The impact of parental separation and loss of social and
relational
competencies can differ, depending on whether the incarcerated
parent is the
mother or father. Davies et al. (2008) specifically identified a
mother’s incar-
ceration as more detrimental to a child’s capacity for forming
relationships
compared with incarceration of a father. Among many reasons,
the pivotal
role that mothers often play as primary caretaker in the child’s
life explains
this outcome (Davies et al., 2008). Additionally, a father’s
absence due to
incarceration oftentimes leaves the sole caretaking to the
mother (Glaze &
Maruschak, 2008). If the mother then commits a crime that
leads to incar-
ceration, it causes a major disruption and parental absence in
the child’s
life. The loss of both parents results in a grandparent or other
relative
providing care for the child, or leads to placement in the child
welfare
or foster care system. Feelings of abandonment, anger, and
anxiety may
increase and might impede the child’s ability to establish and
maintain
relationships with others (Phillips & Gates, 2011). Furthermore,
Glaze and
Maruschak (2008) concluded that regardless of the sex of the
parent, incar-
ceration influences children’s social and relational abilities and
interactions
tremendously.
The Influence of Attachment
According to Bandura (2008), the level of parental attachment
and role-
modeling directly affects a child’s behavior. For example, if the
attachment
level is high and the parent models inappropriate behavior, the
child is likely
to mimic the actions of the adult (Bandura, 2008). Youth’s
imitative behavior
may serve as an undesirable “coming of age” or “badge of
honor” with the
parent and in the juvenile system. However, even if parental
attachment is
not high, but the child perceives it to be, it also directly
influences social and
relational abilities (Burt & Butler, 2011).
An example of the influence of the perception of attachment is
an incar-
cerated parent who is not present in a child’s life. However, the
child may
believe mimicking behaviors similar to the incarcerated parent
will create
a bond between them, therefore compensating for the physical
absence.
Thus, the rationale of the child is as follows: Imitating
behaviors will build
a stronger relationship and increase attachment between parent
and child
(Phillips & Gates, 2011). Although this dubious logic may not
be accurate, it
provides the child with feelings of hope (Burt & Butler, 2011).
As a result, a
potentially distorted perception of the attachment between
parent and child
begins to develop (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). Clearly, the perception
of attach-
ment (real or imagined) is critical for this population. Lastly,
recent studies
indicate the sex of the incarcerated parent greatly affects
attachment as well
(Phillips & Gates, 2011).
398 A. Lopez and I. Burt
NEGATIVE PARENTAL ATTACHMENT AND THE
INCARCERATED MOTHER
Traditionally, society views mothers (women) as more nurturing
than fathers,
or men, and less likely to have a negative parental attachment
(Burt,
2013). Operationally defined, negative parental attachment is
when a parent
develops an attachment that promotes anxiety, sadness, anger,
or fear in
the child (Phillips & Gates, 2011). As a result, researchers
believe nega-
tive parental attachment is worse when it is the mother who is
incarcerated
(Phillips & Gates, 2011). Although current researchers have
asserted this
view is not entirely accurate, the idea continues to persist in
society (Cross
& Campbell, 2011). Consequently, an incarcerated mother
violates the soci-
etal norm of the nurturing maternal figure (Johnson &
Easterling, 2012).
Violation of this social standard further stigmatizes youth, as
society looks
down on jailed individuals (Shlafer, Poehlmann, & Donelan-
McCall, 2012).
Further, according to societal norms, the mother should be the
one lov-
ing and nurturing the child (Kjellstrand, Cearley, Eddy, Foney,
& Martinez,
2012). Although sex does not necessarily determine the ability
to provide
attachment and nurturing, having a mother (or woman) act in
ways that
contradict societal norms and functioning may be mentally
detrimental for
children (Cross & Campbell, 2011). Hence, the child receives
the following
implicit message from society: The person who should provide
care and
love for you is absent and negligent (Shlafer et al., 2012). The
impact of this
message is critical in that it affects children’s ability to
socialize and build
relationships with others (Kjellstrand et al., 2012).
To further illustrate the impact of female parental incarceration
on chil-
dren’s social and relational skills, Glaze and Maruschak (2008)
conducted a
study evaluating children of incarcerated mothers in state
prisons. Glaze and
Maruschak indicated grandmothers (42%) and other relatives
(23%) were pri-
mary caretakers. Furthermore, while in the custody of others,
youth would
imitate behaviors similar to the incarcerated mother. Although
the mother
was absent, some youth perceived a bond or link with her
through their
actions. Additionally, a large percentage of fathers (88%)
reported that at
least one of their children was residing in the care of the child’s
mother
or another person. Obviously, this population has distinct
behavioral and
relational problems that mental health and school counselors
should address.
AN UNDERSERVED POPULATION
Phillips and Gates (2011) indicated counselors should address
the impact
of parental incarceration on a child’s social and relational
ability, as it is
extremely important. Although awareness of the influence of
parental incar-
ceration on children’s social capabilities continues to rise,
information on
effective services remains limited. An explanation by Miller
(2006) discussed
this discrepancy. He suggested that while literature provides
practitioners
Children of Incarcerated Parents 399
with awareness of the multitude of problems, there is an
absence of specific
interventions addressing this distinct population. Lopez and
Bhat (2007) addi-
tionally stated, “Despite alarming statistics, research on school-
based support
services remains limited” (p. 140).
Moreover, Nesmith and Ruhland (2008) put forth the idea that
interventions not only need to address relational behaviors, but
also need
to draw upon the population’s unique strengths. Researchers
indicate this
population has distinct characteristics such as resiliency and
dedication
(Phillips & Gates, 2011). As such, mental health counselors
need to be
creative in developing interventions when reaching out to this
popula-
tion. Creative, strength-based interventions are critical with
populations that
may not respond well to traditional therapeutic modalities (Burt,
2013).
By creating interventions that focus on strengths, rather than
deficits, tra-
ditionally underserved populations may demonstrate increased
commitment
and respond more positively (Gladding, 2012). Furthermore, due
to mone-
tary limitations in schools and community settings, mental
health and school
counselors have to be creative in developing economical
interventions.
In essence, counselors need to draw upon the strengths of this
popula-
tion, avoid social isolation of children, and at the same time,
utilize resources
to their economic maximum (Burt & Butler, 2011). Clearly,
children of incar-
cerated parents are an underserved population with distinct
attributes and
characteristics not seen in other populations (Miller, 2006).
Thus, coupled
with these distinct traits and the burden of economic
limitations, a dilemma
arises for mental health and school counselors: How do
counselors develop
creative and inexpensive interventions while simultaneously
reaching out to
as many individuals as possible?
Economic Limitations and the Need for Creative Interventions
As mentioned previously, economic resources are less readily
available in
schools and community centers (Burt & Butler, 2011). For
children of incar-
cerated parents, the impact of inadequate economic resources
may be even
more detrimental than for the average child. For example,
family income and
home stability are areas in which children with incarcerated
parents suffer
dramatically. Geller et al. (2009) explained reasons for
economic disparity
and loss of familial stability, including a discussion of how
these factors
combine to affect children negatively. First, following a
parent’s incarcer-
ation, there are fewer financial resources available to the family
(i.e., loss
of income). Furthermore, the possibility of needing legal
representation
exists as well, as not all families’ socioeconomic status
qualifies for a public
defender. Second, loss of income directly affects children
through lack of
resources to provide adequate nutritional diets. Thus, some
children do not
receive the necessary vitamins and nutrients required for
developing youth.
Due to loss of income, many children receive little to no health
care and
may experience other losses such as lack of clothing, school
supplies, and
400 A. Lopez and I. Burt
availability of technology. Furthermore, if the primary caretaker
is incarcer-
ated and there are limited capacities for support and
supervision, relationship
breakdowns and negative socialization effects are likely to
occur (Murray &
Farrington, 2005). These negative socialization and relationship
problems are
exacerbated if children also attend academically ineffective
schools (Burt &
Butler, 2011).
POTENTIAL RESOURCES AS POSITIVE ROLE MODELS
While researchers demonstrate the challenges children face due
to incar-
cerated parents (Phillips & Gates, 2011), questions remain
about what
resolutions exist that offset these problematic issues. One
identified solution
to decrease the risk for economic hardship and relational
instability is
to develop creative family service interventions that ameliorate
material
hardship and ensure social stability (Geller et al., 2009).
Examples of family
service interventions are free workshops conducted by
counselors, certified
public accounts, and other professionals at local community
centers. Burt
and Butler (2011) supported the idea of professionals providing
free services
at community centers. They further stated that professionals
providing
services could do so voluntarily, or on a pro-bono basis.
Provision of
free services not only assists the family unit, but it also offers a
potential
additional benefit to the child.
As stated by Bandura (2008), adults provide implicit direction
and learn-
ing to children through modeling. The professional who is
offering the free
service is a potential role model for the child, and they may
emulate the
positive behavior observed (Burt & Butler, 2011). By offering
free services,
the professional’s altruistic behavior can serve as a buffer
against negative
parental models. Succinctly stated, children need an appropriate
person with
which to identify, as modeling is critical for the development of
children
(Bandura, 2008). For instance, Murray and Farrington (2005)
asserted that
an alarming rate of incarcerated parents have children who
desperately
lack positive role models. Consequently, an emerging need
exists for men-
tal health and school counselors to use effective, creative
interventions to
alleviate the hardship these children endure.
DEVELOPMENTAL CHALLENGES
Nesmith and Ruhland (2008) stated that without creative and
novel inter-
ventions, children’s responses to incarceration or other social
trauma could
manifest later on in negative developmental behaviors. In the
past, research
has indicated that behavioral techniques are best suited to deal
effectively
with these antisocial and delinquent behaviors and responses.
However,
current literature suggests otherwise. Roysircar (2009), for
example, stated
that due to an increased awareness of multiculturalism, many
traditional
talk therapies are no longer appropriate. She further asserted
that instead
Children of Incarcerated Parents 401
of strict behavioral strategies, counselors should use creative
culturally sen-
sitive treatments. Burt and Butler (2011), as well as Gladding
(2012), agree
with and support Roysircar’s assertions. Burt and Butler stated
that traditional
talk therapies may not be as effective with the current
generation of clients
exhibiting potentially destructive behaviors. Examples of such
behaviors
are hypervigilance, sexualized behavior, and excessive verbal
and physi-
cal aggression. Boys, in particular, may benefit from creative
interventions
as they may display delinquent and antisocial behavior due to
parental
incarceration (Davies et al., 2008). Murray and Farrington
(2005) found that
71% of men who experienced parental incarceration during
childhood had
more antisocial and delinquent behavioral outcomes at 32 years
of age.
GROUP BENEFITS
Although risks for children of incarcerated parents are evident,
key factors
such as social support systems and increased self-efficacy are
imperative for
growth and development (Bandura, 2008). Nontraditional group
counseling
focusing on empowerment, self-efficacy, and creativity has
shown success
with underserved populations (Burt, 2013). Groups provide a
social sphere
that promotes exploration of commonalities in a nonjudgmental
atmosphere.
Furthermore, nonjudgmental groups encompass creative
strategies such as
rope courses, martial arts, and bibliotherapy (Burt, 2013).
Groups can play
a primary role in assisting children of incarcerated parents with
needed
resources that may break the cyclical pattern of
intergenerational criminal-
ity. Murray and Farrington (2005) stated that when parental
incarceration
occurs, there should be an extensive range of creative support
services that
counselors offer. Burt and Butler (2011) suggested group
counseling that
focuses on empowerment and self-efficacy may be a creative
alternative
counselors can use with this distinct, underserved population.
The conceptual group described in this article may serve as a
use-
ful intervention that provides mental health and school
counselors with a
creative method to work with children of incarcerated parents.
Thus, the
intent of this article is twofold: (a) to improve children’s social
and rela-
tional competencies, and (b) to provide counselors with a
creative, pragmatic
resource that reaches out to children of incarcerated parents, an
underserved
population.
GROUP PROCESSES
Main Objectives of the Group
The primary purpose of this conceptual counseling group is to
increase chil-
dren’s social and relational competencies. To accomplish this
goal, members
must attain several objectives during the group’s lifespan:
402 A. Lopez and I. Burt
1. Decrease the effect of social stigma and isolation by allowing
members to
voice freely their thoughts and feelings regarding parental
incarceration.
2. Improve self-esteem by increasing children’s sense of
belonging through
providing a warm, caring environment where they can see others
have
issues similar to theirs (Bandura, 2008). An additional benefit
children
receive from having a warm, supportive environment is that it
may help
alleviate confusion and stigma that have arisen due to negative
social
experiences (e.g., parent’s incarceration; Bandura, 2008).
3. Increase empowerment through use of collaborative
exercises, pair
sharing, and bibliotherapy.
4. Use role-plays and collaborative exercises to help members
begin to make
appropriate choices, as well as improve academic, social,
relational, and
behavioral decision-making.
5. Use positive interactions, role-modeling, pair sharing, and
bibliotherapy
to guide members to begin forming healthy relationships in and
outside
group sessions.
Miller (2006) stated, “When children have access to resources
that
help them cope with developmental challenges, they
successfully achieve
developmental tasks” (p. 478). Through attaining these
objectives, members
benefit and learn to build established, trustful relationships.
Furthermore,
members begin to understand their feelings and the feelings of
those around
them, as they relate better to others. Ultimately, this
understanding assists in
developing healthy coping skills that support children’s social
and relational
skills into adolescence and adulthood (Burt & Butler, 2011).
Facilitator Style and Theoretical Considerations
According to Gladding (2012), facilitation style is a crucial
factor contributing
to the successfulness of a group. When groups provide
therapeutic ser-
vices for children, appropriate facilitation style may be even
more critical
for positive outcomes (Burt & Butler, 2011). For groups serving
underserved
and underage populations (e.g., children and adolescents),
several specific
facilitator and group characteristics must exist (Burt, 2013). For
example,
specific factors may include creativity, empathy, and
appropriate disclosure
(Corey, 2011). However, for underserved populations such as
children of
incarcerated parents, an additional number of factors need
addressing. For
example, facilitation with children of incarcerated parents must
include struc-
ture, appropriate social limits, and consistency to serve as a
buffer against
the instability in their lives (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). Democratic
facilitation,
a leadership style that trusts members to develop their own
potential as
well as that of others in the group, assists in providing clear
explanations
of group format, leadership roles, and group expectations, while
contribut-
ing to successful outcomes (Gladding, 2012; Price & Limberg,
2013). Due to
Children of Incarcerated Parents 403
the distrust that is typical among children with incarcerated
parents (Bender,
2003), direction from the facilitator will occur at the start and
end of each
group meeting. Facilitators will primarily focus on the here-
and-now and will
help group members to apply gained insights into making
changes in their
lives (Burt & Butler, 2011).
This conceptual group’s theoretical orientation relies heavily on
Carl
Rogers’s person-centered therapy, which emphasizes empathy
and uncon-
ditional positive regard. Although there is a focus on Rogerian
concepts,
many features of the group are eclectic in nature. This group
also uses tech-
niques from other theories in an organized manner. These
techniques include
bibliotherapy, art therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Labeled techni-
cal eclecticism, this style allows the facilitator to use a strong
theoretical base
and draw from other conceptual techniques systematically
(Young, 2013).
Springer, Lynch, and Rubin (2000) advocate the importance of
highlighting
children’s strengths to help youth understand that their parent’s
inappropri-
ate actions do not make the child a bad person, nor do their
actions mean
that the child is at fault. Focus on the here-and-now occurs
during session
activities whereby children begin to receive feedback about
their behavior,
are able to practice new social skills, and learn how peers
perceive them
(Lopez & Bhat, 2007).
Logistics and Prescreening
Groups consist of 6–10 children, approximately 6–11 years of
age and in
grades second through fifth. The facilitator needs to work
collaboratively
with administrators, teachers, and school counselors for the
group to be suc-
cessful (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). Teachers and counselors alike
monitor the
children around them for appropriate group fit and serve as a
prescreening
tool to identify children in need of this service. Selection of
potential mem-
bers is from a list that teachers provide to counselors that notes
excessive
behavioral problems within the 6-week academic semester.
Potential mem-
bers must have at least four documented instances of severe
behavioral
problems in the 6-week period, in addition to having
confirmation of an
incarcerated parent. There must be evidence of (a) fighting, (b)
verbal
attacks on peers and teachers, (c) four or more unexcused
absences, and
(d) in-school or out-of-school suspensions (Burt & Butler,
2011).
After identification of potential participants, each one will meet
indi-
vidually with the group facilitator (i.e., mental health or school
counselor).
The facilitator explains the group’s purpose and discusses the
opportunity
to interact with others in similar situations and to engage in
activities that
promote self-esteem and social skills (Lopez & Bhat, 2007).
The facilitator
also converses with each potential participant about any
personal goals they
may have at this time. Prior to any group meetings, the
facilitator has each
member sign a child assent form, and a parent or guardian signs
an informed
consent.
404 A. Lopez and I. Burt
DESCRIPTION OF SESSION PLANS
First and Second Sessions
Basic rules for the group consist of respect for people’s
thoughts, beliefs, and
values (Gladding, 2012). These rules are similar to school
protocols where
members will not physically assault others, will refrain from
cursing, and will
allow others to talk (Burt, 2013). The facilitator discusses
confidentiality in
the pregroup meeting and reinforces it as a topic of importance.
At the end
of each session (Table 1), the facilitator will allocate 10
minutes for reflection
and summarization.
FIRST SESSION
The first session, an introduction meeting, focuses on relieving
anxiety.
Members break the ice, introduce themselves, and discuss basic
ground
rules and expectations. To ensure that members know they are
there for
a common purpose, the facilitator restates the purpose of the
group.
Next, the facilitator uses nonthreatening collaborative exercises
so mem-
bers get to know each other better while reducing apprehension
and anxiety
(Springer et al., 2000). During this activity, members spread out
from each
other and throw around a soft rubber or cloth ball. When a
member catches
the ball, he or she tells the group something about him or
herself. In this
activity, all members engage in a socially interactive activity
and feel less
pressure in front of the group to disclose things about
themselves. The facil-
itator demonstrates how to do the activity by performing the
activity before
the rest of the group.
Burt, Patel, and Lewis (2012) discuss an activity in which
members
find commonalties between one another, which can increase
cohesion and
reduce anxiety. In this activity, members go through a process
of identifying
adult role models. Each member specifies and discusses a
person, as well
as what makes the person special. According to Burt et al.
(2012), cohesion
increases as members see that others choose similar people
(e.g., a family
member or celebrity). Anxiety also decreases as connections
between mem-
bers begin to develop (e.g., role models chosen based on similar
likes and
characteristics). Thus, the objective of the first session is to
allow members to
begin to form bonds and group cohesion as they develop a sense
of relation
to one another.
SECOND SESSION
The second session focuses on further disclosure, development
of group
cohesion, and establishing trust. Here, members continue to get
to know
each other and feel more comfortable with the relationships
forming in
this process. Activities in this session allow members to express
how
T
A
B
L
E
1
G
ro
u
p
Se
ss
io
n
Su
m
m
ar
y
Se
ss
io
n
N
u
m
b
e
r
G
ro
u
p
G
o
al
/
T
h
e
m
at
ic
C
at
e
g
o
ry
G
ro
u
p
A
ct
iv
it
y
1
R
e
li
e
v
in
g
an
x
ie
ty
,
e
st
ab
li
sh
in
g
g
ro
u
p
n
o
rm
s,
e
x
p
e
ct
at
io
n
s,
an
d
in
tr
o
d
u
ct
io
n
s
(1
)
G
ro
u
p
m
e
m
b
e
rs
b
e
g
in
in
tr
o
d
u
ci
n
g
th
e
m
se
lv
e
s,
o
u
tl
in
e
b
as
ic
g
ro
u
n
d
ru
le
s,
an
d
d
is
cu
ss
th
e
ir
p
e
rs
o
n
al
g
o
al
s
as
a
m
e
m
b
e
r
o
f
th
e
g
ro
u
p
.
(2
)
G
ro
u
p
m
e
m
b
e
rs
w
il
l
ca
tc
h
a
ru
b
b
e
r/
cl
o
th
b
al
l
an
d
d
is
cl
o
se
so
m
e
th
in
g
ab
o
u
t
th
e
m
se
lv
e
s
to
o
th
e
r
m
e
m
b
e
rs
.
2
D
is
cl
o
su
re
,
g
ro
u
p
co
h
e
si
o
n
,
an
d
e
st
ab
li
sh
in
g
tr
u
st
(1
)
F
e
ar
s
in
a
h
at
—
g
ro
u
p
m
e
m
b
e
rs
w
ri
te
th
e
ir
fe
ar
s
in
a
h
at
an
d
th
e
n
ra
n
d
o
m
ly
re
ad
th
e
m
to
an
o
th
e
r
m
e
m
b
e
r
w
h
o
o
ff
e
rs
e
m
p
at
h
y
an
d
su
p
p
o
rt
.
(2
)
R
at
tl
e
sn
ak
e
:
St
an
d
in
g
g
ro
u
p
m
e
m
b
e
rs
fo
rm
a
la
rg
e
ci
rc
le
an
d
ta
k
e
tu
rn
s
b
li
n
d
fo
ld
e
d
.
W
h
e
n
b
li
n
d
fo
ld
e
d
,
in
st
ru
ct
io
n
s
ar
e
to
lo
ca
te
a
h
id
d
e
n
ra
tt
le
an
d
to
u
ch
th
e
m
e
m
b
e
r
w
h
o
is
h
o
ld
in
g
it
.
B
o
th
m
e
m
b
e
rs
g
o
in
to
th
e
ci
rc
le
,
w
h
il
e
o
n
e
av
o
id
s
b
e
in
g
to
u
ch
e
d
b
y
th
e
o
th
e
r.
In
a
co
ll
ab
o
ra
ti
v
e
e
ff
o
rt
,
m
e
m
b
e
rs
fo
rm
in
g
th
e
ci
rc
le
h
e
lp
th
e
b
li
n
d
fo
ld
e
d
m
e
m
b
e
r
fi
n
d
th
e
ra
tt
le
.
3
Id
e
n
ti
fy
in
g
so
ci
al
su
p
p
o
rt
an
d
co
p
in
g
st
ra
te
g
ie
s
(1
)
G
ro
u
p
m
e
m
b
e
rs
w
il
l
cr
e
at
e
a
fa
m
il
y
O
R
co
m
m
u
n
it
y
g
e
n
o
g
ra
m
to
id
e
n
ti
fy
an
d
d
is
cu
ss
tr
u
st
in
g
th
e
ir
re
la
ti
o
n
sh
ip
s.
(2
)
B
ib
li
o
th
e
ra
p
y
:
g
ro
u
p
re
ad
in
g
o
f
M
y
D
a
d
d
y
is
in
Ja
il
,
fo
ll
o
w
e
d
b
y
e
x
p
lo
ra
ti
o
n
o
f
su
cc
e
ss
fu
l
co
p
in
g
st
ra
te
g
ie
s,
id
e
n
ti
fi
ca
ti
o
n
,
an
d
d
is
cu
ss
io
n
o
f
b
o
o
k
ch
ar
ac
te
r
an
d
n
e
g
at
in
g
d
is
to
rt
e
d
th
in
k
in
g
.
(3
)
F
e
e
li
n
g
m
o
n
st
e
rs
:
G
ro
u
p
m
e
m
b
e
rs
w
il
l
p
o
u
n
d
,
sq
u
e
e
ze
,
o
r
p
o
k
e
m
o
ld
in
g
cl
ay
,
in
an
e
ff
o
rt
to
h
e
lp
re
le
as
e
th
e
ir
u
n
e
x
p
re
ss
e
d
fe
e
li
n
g
s.
G
ro
u
p
m
e
m
b
e
rs
w
il
l
sh
ar
e
th
e
ir
m
o
n
st
e
rs
an
d
e
x
p
la
in
th
e
ch
o
se
n
fe
e
li
n
g
,
fo
ll
o
w
e
d
b
y
th
e
ir
re
as
o
n
in
g
.
(C
o
n
ti
n
u
ed
)
405
T
A
B
L
E
1
(C
o
n
ti
n
u
e
d
)
Se
ss
io
n
N
u
m
b
e
r
G
ro
u
p
G
o
al
/
T
h
e
m
at
ic
C
at
e
g
o
ry
G
ro
u
p
A
ct
iv
it
y
4
Se
lf
-e
st
e
e
m
an
d
st
re
n
g
th
b
u
il
d
in
g
(1
)
D
ra
w
(c
re
at
e
)
a
tr
e
e
o
f
p
e
rs
o
n
al
st
re
n
g
th
an
d
g
ro
w
th
,
w
h
ic
h
is
re
p
re
se
n
te
d
as
th
e
ir
se
lf
-p
o
rt
ra
it
,
an
d
e
m
p
h
as
iz
e
p
o
si
ti
v
e
ch
ar
ac
te
ri
st
ic
s.
T
h
e
ro
o
ts
o
f
th
e
tr
e
e
sy
m
b
o
li
ze
p
e
rs
o
n
al
st
re
n
g
th
s,
w
h
il
e
th
e
le
av
e
s
ar
e
d
if
fi
cu
lt
ie
s
th
at
m
e
m
b
e
rs
ar
e
cu
rr
e
n
tl
y
st
ru
g
g
li
n
g
w
it
h
o
v
e
rc
o
m
in
g
.
O
n
th
e
o
p
p
o
si
te
si
d
e
o
f
th
e
p
ap
e
r,
e
ac
h
g
ro
u
p
m
e
m
b
e
r
w
il
l
id
e
n
ti
fy
p
o
si
ti
v
e
ch
ar
ac
te
ri
st
ic
s
th
e
y
h
av
e
w
it
n
e
ss
e
d
fr
o
m
th
e
m
e
m
b
e
r,
in
st
il
li
n
g
an
d
im
p
ro
v
in
g
se
lf
-e
st
e
e
m
.
E
ac
h
m
e
m
b
e
r
w
il
l
h
av
e
th
e
o
p
p
o
rt
u
n
it
y
to
sh
ar
e
an
d
p
ro
ce
ss
w
it
h
th
e
re
st
o
f
th
e
g
ro
u
p
m
e
m
b
e
rs
.
5
E
st
ab
li
sh
in
g
tr
u
st
in
g
re
la
ti
o
n
sh
ip
s
an
d
d
e
v
e
lo
p
in
g
so
ci
al
sk
il
ls
,
e
m
p
h
as
iz
in
g
so
ci
al
an
d
re
la
ti
o
n
al
su
p
p
o
rt
.
(1
)
D
is
cu
ss
io
n
o
f
w
h
at
co
n
st
it
u
te
s,
a
g
o
o
d
fr
ie
n
d
,
fo
ll
o
w
e
d
b
y
a
fi
ct
io
n
al
ad
v
e
rt
is
e
m
e
n
t
se
e
k
in
g
a
fr
ie
n
d
w
it
h
d
e
sc
ri
b
e
d
q
u
al
it
ie
s
(2
)
R
o
le
-p
la
y
in
g
e
x
e
rc
is
e
e
x
e
m
p
li
fy
in
g
.
p
o
si
ti
v
e
q
u
al
it
ie
s
o
f
th
e
ir
id
e
al
fr
ie
n
d
.
(3
)
G
ro
u
p
m
e
m
b
e
rs
cr
e
at
e
a
v
is
io
n
b
o
ar
d
u
si
n
g
m
ag
az
in
e
s
an
d
d
is
cu
ss
th
e
ra
ti
o
n
al
e
b
e
h
in
d
th
e
ir
se
le
ct
io
n
s.
6
P
o
si
ti
v
e
o
u
tl
o
o
k
fo
r
th
e
fu
tu
re
an
d
a
re
v
ie
w
o
f
sa
li
e
n
t
p
o
in
ts
fr
o
m
p
re
v
io
u
s
se
ss
io
n
s
(1
)
P
iz
za
an
d
ic
e
-c
re
am
p
ar
ty
fo
r
al
l
m
e
m
b
e
rs
.
(2
)
Id
e
n
ti
fi
ca
ti
o
n
o
f
co
m
m
u
n
it
y
,
sc
h
o
o
l,
an
d
fa
m
il
y
su
p
p
o
rt
.
D
is
cu
ss
io
n
w
il
l
su
rr
o
u
n
d
ap
p
ro
p
ri
at
e
w
ay
s
o
f
re
q
u
e
st
in
g
h
e
lp
.
(3
)
A
d
m
in
is
te
ri
n
g
ce
rt
ifi
ca
te
s
o
f
co
m
p
le
ti
o
n
,
e
n
h
an
ci
n
g
fe
e
li
n
g
s
o
f
ac
co
m
p
li
sh
m
e
n
t.
406
Children of Incarcerated Parents 407
they view themselves. Additionally, exercises in this session
emphasize
the identification of individual strengths and fears while helping
members
recognize that they are not alone (Lopez & Bhat, 2007).
One creative activity the facilitator uses to achieve this
objective is to
have members write a fear on a small piece of paper, fold it up,
and drop
it into a hat. Members then take a turn reaching into the hat and
reading
the fear they pick. Members test their social and relational
abilities by shar-
ing whether they have felt similarly to other group members.
Proceeding
in this manner allows members to engage in a way that reduces
fear. This
activity is especially helpful for children, as they sometimes
feel as though
they cannot relate to others, or they believe no one understands
their feel-
ings. Nesmith and Ruhland (2008) state that children who suffer
from social
stigma and isolation are often unable to connect to others or
find peo-
ple they can trust. As a result, these children feel socially
marginalized or
ostracized.
Blanton, Christensen, and Shakir (2006) suggest using
collaborative
activities to increase trust and cohesion in a group. An example
is the col-
laborative activity that Blanton et al. label Rattlesnake. In this
activity, group
members attempt to devise strategies to help blindfolded
members locate a
hidden rattle. The group forms a standing circle as the
facilitator gives a rattle
to a member. The facilitator blindfolds another member and
tells the person
to locate the rattle by touching the individual holding the rattle.
Both group
members enter the circle as the individual with the rattle
attempts to avoid
being touched. Members forming the circle collaborate and
brainstorm ideas
to help the blindfolded person accomplish the goal of locating
the hidden
rattle.
Through this collaboration activity, all members win. One
person
attains a goal as others take pride in assisting a member’s
accomplishment.
According to Blanton et al. (2006), these types of collaborative
activities
serve to increase cohesion as members begin to build trust
through working
together.
Third and Fourth Sessions
The third and fourth sessions focus on identifying additional
social support,
improving trust in relationships, reducing feelings of isolation,
building self-
esteem, and identifying personal strengths.
THIRD SESSION
As the group progresses into the third session, it is important to
identify
additional social support available to members once the group
terminates.
One way the facilitator begins this process is through a family
or community
genogram. Here, members identify people in their lives that
they trust and
408 A. Lopez and I. Burt
with whom they may be able to disclose their feelings. As
evidenced by
Nesmith and Ruhland (2008), children of incarcerated parents
often struggle
with finding anyone to trust in their lives. However, members
may begin
to see improved relationships with others as group sessions
transform their
social and relational abilities with those around them.
According to Phillips
and Gates (2011), improved relationships assist in reducing the
isolation that
children may feel.
The facilitator also utilizes bibliotherapy by reading the book
My Daddy
is in Jail (Bender, 2003). Discussion after the reading explores
how members
were able to identify with the character (Lopez & Bhat, 2007).
This activity
allows members to discuss fears and identify coping strategies
that help to
normalize their situation. Furthermore, the facilitator engages
members in a
dialogue involving how coping strategies can negate harmful
emotions or
thoughts (e.g., sadness, thoughts of social inadequacy)
experienced during
the period of parental incarceration.
After leading a discussion on appropriate and inappropriate
ways to
express angry feelings, members participate in an activity
labeled Feeling
Monsters. In this activity, the facilitator provides members with
a slab of
molding clay that they mold into a figure of their choosing,
symbolizing
angry or other unresolved emotions. Members then share their
“monsters”
and explain the feeling they chose and their reasoning. This
activity helps
to facilitate discussion, and perhaps resolution, of feelings
members may
be otherwise unable to disclose, as well as sort out any
displaced anger
or unresolved emotions in a positive manner (Bender, 2003).
Discussion of
helpful coping techniques, such as talking to someone, drawing,
writing a
letter, and journaling during times of stress may prove useful
during these
stages (Nesmith & Ruhland, 2008). It is through these creative,
alternate cop-
ing strategies that members begin to identify and form
relationships with
peers (Miller, 2006). Through positive social bonding, youth
begin to develop
strong relationship skills that can possibly prevent future
unproductive and
destructive behavior (Bandura, 2008).
FOURTH SESSION
Johnston (1995) identified low self-esteem as one of the most
common char-
acteristics of children with incarcerated parents. Low self-
esteem, in turn,
adversely affects children’s ability to respond to future
traumatic events.
Therefore, the fourth session focuses on building self-esteem as
well as
identifying strengths. To accomplish these tasks, the facilitator
has members
draw a self-portrait and encourages them to name positive
personal charac-
teristics (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). This activity encourages
members to build a
positive self-image, confidence, and personal strength. Geller et
al. (2009)
emphasized the need for facilitators to encourage personal
creativity for chil-
dren of incarcerated parents. To fulfill this creative
requirement, members in
Children of Incarcerated Parents 409
this group participate in an experiential activity where they
create (i.e., draw)
their own tree of personal strength and growth, a symbolic
representation of
their self-portrait (Bender, 2003).
As suggested by Bender (2003), the facilitator provides group
members
with materials such as construction paper, markers, crayons, or
pencils. After
receiving materials, each member draws a tree with roots and
leaves large
enough to fill the paper. Additionally, members place their
name on their
drawing, thus owning the work and making it theirs (Gladding,
2012). The
roots symbolize personal strengths, and the facilitator instructs
each member
to write positive changes they have mastered or noticed in
themselves. The
leaves symbolize members’ current difficulties, including
behaviors they are
continuously working to improve.
Once members finish decorating their tree, the facilitator
instructs them
to pass it around the room until it makes a full circle and
reaches back to the
original member. Through this process, members get to see the
trees of their
peers. As the drawings are passed around the circle, the
facilitator tells mem-
bers to write on the back of the paper one positive attribute of
that member
to whom the tree belongs. Each member has the opportunity to
share their
drawing, descriptors, and what others wrote about them to the
rest of the
group. In an effort to process unresolved feelings resulting from
this activ-
ity, the facilitator needs to pay close attention to each member’s
reaction
and behaviors. This experiential activity not only permits each
member to be
introspective, but also provides for a potential increase in
overall self-efficacy
(Bandura, 2008). According to Adalist-Estrin (2006),
improvements in self-
efficacy can occur in children of incarcerated parents when they
become
more aware of personal perceptions and feelings. Therefore,
increasing indi-
vidual insight is paramount as improved awareness leads to
personal growth
and better interpersonal relationships (Miller, 2006).
Fifth and Sixth Sessions
Sessions 5 and 6 focus on building trusting relationships,
developing social
skills and self-awareness, and building outside social support to
lean on after
the termination of the group.
FIFTH SESSION
The focus of Session 5 is trust issues in relationships and
development of
appropriate social skills. In anticipation of termination, the
facilitator also
emphasizes the need for social and relational support in
participants’ per-
sonal lives. An appropriate exercise the facilitator uses is an
activity labeled
A Good Friend (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). In this activity, members
discuss and
define what makes a good friend. Moreover, members create a
fictional
advertisement seeking a friend that meets their described
qualities. The
410 A. Lopez and I. Burt
activity ends with members role-playing and exemplifying the
importance
of the qualities their ideal friend has. Emphasizing positive
qualities in oth-
ers is imperative with this population, as many seek
maladaptive groups,
such as gangs, to fulfill their relational needs (Burt & Butler,
2011). It is with
this increased sense of self-awareness and knowledge about
what qualities
individuals look for in others that social and relational skills
grow.
Encouraging a positive outlook for the future and instilling
confidence in
group members is essential, as worry and hopelessness often
plague children
of incarcerated parents (Adalist-Estrin, 2006). To circumvent
hopelessness,
the facilitator must be sure to deal with termination in a caring
and sensi-
tive manner (Corey, 2011). In this group, the facilitator has
members create
a vision board that assists in the termination process by
providing inspira-
tion and hope for the future (Springer et al., 2000).
Construction paper and
magazines aid the vision board activity. The facilitator instructs
members to
look through appropriate, provided magazines. As members cut
out pictures,
words, people, places, or things, they begin to envision their
future. Here,
members have the opportunity to create their vision boards any
way they
choose. This could be a future with or without their parent and
may include
the actions needed to prepare them for either scenario. Having
members
systemically consider how their actions directly affect their
future is simi-
lar to Bandura’s (2008) notion of intentionality. Using
intentionality, people
predict the likelihood that their behavior will have either a
positive or a nega-
tive impact on accomplishing their goals in the future. When
members share
their vision boards with one another, cohesion increases and the
process of
termination may be easier for members to accept (Gladding,
2012).
SIXTH SESSION
In the sixth and final session, the group terminates. The
facilitator gives a
pizza and ice-cream party for all members. This celebration
symbolizes a
culmination of the dedication the members have put forth and
marks a new
beginning. As recommended by Burt et al. (2012), the final
session focuses
on reviewing previous material, as well as identifying strengths
and skills that
have developed throughout time in the group. Additionally,
using cognitive
forethought (i.e., predicting how behavior can influence future
decisions) is a
major component during the final session. Maintaining a key
focus on cogni-
tive processes instead of emotional content, as Gladding (2012)
mentioned,
is vital when working with this population during termination.
Therefore,
asking members to identify available support within the
community, family,
and school is useful, as it helps with the transition of
termination.
The facilitator guides members in discussion of how they will
approach
people in their lives for support, including how they will phrase
their request
(Lopez & Bhat, 2007). Corey (2011) and Gladding (2012) both
suggested
that for termination to be impactful and significant, the final
session should
Children of Incarcerated Parents 411
include something creative that is inexpensive and tangible. For
example,
the facilitator has members create a drawing that symbolizes the
progression
made during the group. The drawing is a concrete item the
members can
take with them to keep once the group ends. Similarly, Burt et
al. (2012)
suggested using positive mementos to assist in goal-keeping
once the group
ends.
Evaluations of this conceptual group entail members’ personal
evalua-
tions of their experience. Evaluations may determine how
helpful they found
the group and how well it assisted in the development of social
and relational
skills. Evaluations administered preintervention,
midintervention, and postin-
tervention are useful to determine efficacy of the group
(McCarthy, 2012).
Furthermore, the use of evaluations aids in determining where
improvements
can be made in group design and structure, as well as in group
facilitation
(Burt et al., 2012). With evaluation, the ability to pinpoint
populations most in
need of interventions can assist counselors in ensuring
underserved popula-
tions receive necessary services (Burt, 2013). Finally, an option
for follow-up
is an annual assessment of each member determining if they
may benefit
from additional services.
DISCUSSION
Due to a lack of literature and interventions for children of
incarcerated
parents, it is imperative to not underestimate the social and
emotional insta-
bility these children endure. Springer et al. (2000) determined
that although
there is “support in general for group work with children who
have expe-
rienced parental incarceration, there is no available outcome
literature on
the effectiveness of group intervention with this population” (p.
433). Thus,
the purpose of this article is to bring attention to this
population’s needs
and concerns. It is the authors’ contention that researchers need
to focus
on developing and analyzing interventions for children of
incarcerated par-
ents. Practitioners, however, need to focus on using appropriate
or effective
interventions.
Children spend many hours in school, and the environment itself
pro-
vides a developmental context for behavioral, academic, and
socioemotional
functioning. Therefore, Shillingford and Edwards (2008)
suggested strate-
gies that include the school and home as important frameworks
to enhance
the functioning of children of incarcerated parents.
Additionally, collabora-
tive planning between school and home has an added benefit of
ensuring
the promotion of effective resources to address social problems.
Research
indicates that children of incarcerated parents are an
increasingly vulner-
able population that is growing dramatically (Springer et al.,
2000). Thus,
counselors need to position themselves for early intervention
and design
appropriate support strategies for this underserved population.
412 A. Lopez and I. Burt
Limitations
Working with a group of children struggling with personal and
familial hard-
ships is a difficult task (Phillips & Gates, 2011). There are
many additional
challenges when implementing a 6-week group intervention.
First, the lim-
ited timeframe may hinder the array of possibilities for the
group itself to
evolve. Due to the extensive time children need to build trust,
past studies
emphasized the importance of extending group sessions for
longer periods
(e.g., 12 weeks). However, Lopez and Bhat (2007) believed this
might be
challenging because obtaining support for a long-term group
from admin-
istrators and teachers is difficult. An additional limitation is the
selection of
potential members coming from a list provided by school staff.
First, having
a list provided by school staff may not produce enough
applicants to fill
the group. Second, the criteria to be included on a list provided
by school
staff could potentially miss students who may be internalizing,
as opposed
to externalizing, their problems. Nevertheless, there are few
interventions
designed specifically for this population (Lopez & Bhat, 2007).
As such,
even with limitations, counseling groups may provide a creative
interven-
tion similar to what Roysircar (2009) indicated underserved
populations
need.
FUTURE IMPLICATIONS
Children share the devastation of a parent’s incarceration. Their
reactions,
however, may differ in various ways. Miller (2006) explained,
due to research
primarily emphasizing male participants, that there is still an
unclear picture
of gender differences. Males generally misbehave to acquire
attention, while
females can be withdrawn, shy, or have problems with
communication if the
father is the incarcerated parent (Davies et al., 2008). However,
if the mother
is the incarcerated parent, girls may display excessive anger and
aggression.
Since recent studies do not distinguish between male and female
partici-
pants, further research may be warranted in addressing each
sex’s specific
reactions to incarceration. Specific attention to the implications
of negative
social bonds, such as gangs, can address what Miller (2006)
identified as a
desire for a sense of belonging.
With such variation within children of incarcerated parents, it is
imperative that more researchers explore this population’s needs
and con-
cerns (Murray & Farrington, 2005). Therefore, future studies
may examine
if impact is dependent on sex of parent, type of crime
committed, and
length of parental sentence. While the focus of this article was
aimed at
underserved populations (i.e., low socioeconomic status),
parental incarcer-
ation affects all economic backgrounds. Understanding the
effect of parental
incarceration on a variety of economic backgrounds is an area
that future
researchers need to address. Another concern for future
researchers is the
Children of Incarcerated Parents 413
selection process. As mentioned previously, some children
internalize rather
than externalize their issues. Developing a recruitment,
screening, and selec-
tion model that identifies the most appropriate population is
imperative for
groups (Gladding, 2012). Additionally, further studies may wish
to exam-
ine the impact of parental incarceration based upon the child’s
age, amount
of contact maintained between child and parent, and
expectations children
receive from others regarding their parent’s absence. Lastly,
longitudinal
studies in the lives of children with incarcerated parents may
help to clarify
both short-term and long-term impacts on children. Through
future interven-
tions, counselors can develop and structure activities that
positively influence
children’s lives.
REFERENCES
Adalist-Estrin, A. (2006). Providing support to adolescent
children with incarcerated
parents. The Prevention Researcher, 13(2), 7–10.
Bandura, A. (2008). Toward an agentic theory of the self. In H.
Marsh, R. G. Craven,
& D. M. McInerney (Eds.), Advances in self research: Vol. 3.
Self-processes, learn-
ing, and enabling human potential (pp. 15–49). Charlotte, NC:
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Bender, J. M. (2003). My daddy is in jail. Chapin, SC:
Youthlight.
Blanton, E., Christensen, C., & Shakir, J. (2006). Empowering
the angry child for
positive leadership. Louisville, KY: Peace Education Program.
Burt, I. (2013). Identifying male and female anger: A pilot
study with an adolescent
population. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Burt, I., & Butler, S. K. (2011). Capoeira as a clinical
intervention: Addressing adoles-
cent aggression with Brazilian martial arts. Journal of
Multicultural Counseling
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1912.2011.tb00139.x
Burt, I., Patel, S. H., & Lewis, S. V. (2012). Anger management
leadership groups:
A creative intervention for increasing social and relational
competencies
with aggressive youth. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 7
, 249–261.
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Corey, G. (2011). Theory and practice of group counseling (8th
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CA: Brooks/Cole.
Cross, C., & Campbell, A. (2011). Women’s aggression.
Aggression and Violent
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(2008). Understanding
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Harper, C. C., & McLanahan, S. S. (2004). Father absence and
youth incarcer-
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effects of parental
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3737.2012.00957.x
Johnston, D. (1995). The effects of parental incarceration. In K.
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(Eds.), Children of incarcerated parents (pp. 59–88). New York,
NY: Lexington.
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C. R. (2012).
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Implications for preven-
tive interventions targeting children and families. Children and
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Lopez, C., & Bhat, C. (2007). Supporting students with
incarcerated parents in
schools: A group intervention. The Journal for Specialists in
Group Work, 32,
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McCarthy, C. J. (2012). Developing best practices for
researching group work.
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doi:10.1080/01933
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children: An emerging
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7610.2005.01433.x
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understanding the
stigmatization of children of incarcerated parents. Journal of
Child and Family
Studies, 20, 286–294. doi:10.1007/s10826-010-9391-6
Price, E., & Limberg, D. (2013). Addressing the mental health
needs of gay military
veterans: A group counseling approach. Journal of Military and
Government
Counseling, 1, 26–39.
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OH: Charles E. Merrill
Publishing Company.
Roysircar, G. (2009). Evidence-based practice and its
implications for culturally
sensitive treatment. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and
Development, 37 ,
66–82. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1912.2009.tb00092.x
Shillingford, A. M., & Edwards, O. W. (2008). Professional
school counselors using
choice theory to meet the needs of children of prisoners.
Professional School
Counseling, 12, 62–65. doi:10.5330/PSC.n.2010-12.62
Shlafer, R. J., Poehlmann, J., & Donelan-McCall, N. (2012).
Maternal jail time, con-
viction, and arrest as predictors of children’s 15-year antisocial
outcomes in the
context of a nurse home visiting program. Journal of Clinical
Child & Adolescent
Psychology, 41, 38–52. doi:10.1080/15374416.2012.632345
Springer, D. W., Lynch, C., & Rubin, A. (2000). Effects of a
solution-focused mutual
aid group for Hispanic children of incarcerated parents. Child
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doi:10.1023/A:1026479727159
Children of Incarcerated Parents 415
Young, M. E. (2013). Learning the art of helping (5th ed.).
Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Pearson.
Angelica Lopez is an In-Home On-Site Therapist at The Village
South/WestCare, Miami, Florida.
Isaac Burt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of
Counselor
Education, Leadership, and Professional Studies at Florida
International
University, Miami, Florida.
Copyright of Journal of Creativity in Mental Health is the
property of Taylor & Francis Ltd
and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or
posted to a listserv without
the copyright holder's express written permission. However,
users may print, download, or
email articles for individual use.

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Running head PROGRAM AND MISSION ALIGNMENT .docx

  • 1. Running head: PROGRAM AND MISSION ALIGNMENT 1 PROGRAM AND MISSION ALIGNMENT 4 Program and Mission Alignment Student Name Institutional Affiliation Winthrop University aims at offering personalized challenging, graduate, and continuing professional education programs of national caliber. Doing a degree in communication sciences and disorder does not align to the university’s mission since the program is not offered at the university anymore. The program started its closure while I was still in school, which was an indication of its coming to extinction. The program in communication sciences and disorders is also not part of the long-term mission of the university of achieving national stature as a competitive and distinctive, co-educational, public, residential comprehensive, and value-oriented institution. The program has been closed, which is an implication of the failure to meet the required standards to provide competitive skills to its students. Communication sciences and disorders program
  • 2. does not meet the students’ needs of meeting the challenges of the contemporary world by offering them the ability to synthesize knowledge to solve complex challenges. Winthrop University prides itself in offering value-based education, which has shaped the success of the university. Closing the program shows that it does not contribute to the overall mission of the university, which contradicts the provisions of the university, which means that the program does not contribute to the values of the university. Any program that does not contribute towards the achievement of the university’s mission should be scrapped off so that only those programs that have a bearing on the university mission are considered. However, the university needs to evaluate the contribution of the course towards the overall mission of the university. A speech pathologist is concerned with treating speech disorders among people suffering from such problems. The university, on the other hand, is concerned with training people who can treat speech disorders in society. The university, therefore, is a bridge between the prevailing challenge in society and the possible solutions. As such, speech pathologist is an important program that the university should reestablish. References Website: https://www.winthrop.edu/ Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 7:107, 2012 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1540-1383 print/1540-1391 online DOI: 10.1080/15401383.2012.657597
  • 3. CREATING SPACE FOR CONNECTION: A COLUMN FOR CREATIVE PRACTICE This column is designed to underscore relationally based creative inter- ventions used by counselors and psychotherapists in their practices. Our intention is to provide examples of novel, innovative ways of working with clients in their efforts to deepen self-awareness and their connections with others. Although the interventions within this column will be presented in a linear “how to” manner, an essential premise of this column is that inter- ventions submitted for publication have a contextual and relational basis. Basic to this column is the therapeutic focus of working through latent hurts and impediments to our clients’ health and happiness. Client goals generally involve creating the requisite emotional space needed for genuine relational choice for connection to manifest. If you have created a useful therapy tool, or if you have adapted an existing creative tool that you would like to share with readers, please follow submission guidelines in the author infor- mation packet available at http://www.creativecounselor.org/Journal.html. 107
  • 4. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 7:108–121, 2012 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1540-1383 print/1540-1391 online ArtBreak: A Creative Group Counseling Program for Children KATHERINE ZIFF, LORI PIERCE, and SUSAN JOHANSON Athens City School District, The Plains, Ohio, USA MARGARET KING Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA This article describes the pilot of a school-based creative group-counseling program for children called ArtBreak, a choice-based studio art experience based on the restorative pos- sibilities of art making delineated in the expressive therapies continuum (ETC; Hinz, 2009; Kagin & Lusebrink, 1978). The ETC features a developmental hierarchy in relation to how art is cre- ated and the therapeutic properties of associated media. Learning from the pilot suggests the ETC is a valuable framework for support- ing groups of children in kinesthetic, affective, and cognitive ways. The article also includes suggestions regarding logistics, commu- nity, and future documentation and research. KEYWORDS children, art, group counseling, expressive therapies continuum, creative counseling, creativity Schools offer art making to students in a variety of formats and for mul-
  • 5. tiple purposes. Art educators teach children about techniques, materials, processes, art appreciation, and art history; they also encourage play, cre- ativity, and imagination (Szekely, 2006). Art making can be a support to classroom teaching: The ateliers of Reggio Emilia schools and the curricula of Waldorf schools are art based (Gandini, Hill, Cadwell, & Schwall, 2005; Pelo, 2007). Also, North Carolina and Oklahoma’s system of A+ Schools is a reform model of arts integration (President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, 2011). School counselors use visual art to provide creative counseling in individual or themed group settings (Allan, 1988; Address correspondence to Katherine Ziff, Athens City School District, 25 S. Plains Road, The Plains, OH 45780, USA. E-mail: [email protected] 108 ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 109 Gladding, 2011; Somody & Hobbs, 2006/2007). Art therapists sometimes practice in schools, their work supporting student mental health (Essex, Frostig, & Hertz, 1996; Malchiodi, 1996; Pleasant-Metcalf & Rosal, 1997; Rosal, McCulloch-Vislisel, & Neece, 1997). Visual arts in schools is valuable
  • 6. in encouraging school engagement and community, creativity, collabora- tion, innovative thinking, and attention (Kosik, 2009; President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, 2011). ArtBreak, a program grounded in the therapeutic use of studio art, is a choice-based studio art experience for children based on the restorative possibilities of art making delineated in the expressive therapies contin- uum (ETC; Kagin & Lusebrink, 1978). The pilot program took place in two elementary schools in rural Southeastern Ohio from 2009 through 2011. ArtBreak was planned and facilitated by an elementary school counselor in consultation with school psychologists and administrators and a university professor. RATIONALE ArtBreak shares boundaries with both art therapy and art education, although it is neither. It incorporates the ETC as a guide for choosing mate- rials for the studio, offering them to children, and thinking about what children are accomplishing as they choose and work with various media. Grounded in the ETC and studio art, ArtBreak is a group-based creative counseling program designed to help students build social skills, develop
  • 7. problem-solving abilities, and relax and express feelings. The ETC is a theoretical framework for engaging the expressive and integrative potential of creativity through the use and properties of visual art. Art therapists Sandra Kagin and Vija Lusebrink introduced the ETC in 1978; it has been elaborated by Lisa Hinz (2009). The ETC features a developmental hierarchy associated with how information is processed in relation to how art is created in a therapeutic context. ETC delineates three general restorative goals of associated media: (a) Fluid media like watercolor, chalk pastels, and finger paint support kinesthetic/sensory goals such as relaxation and expression of feelings; (b) more resistive media like colored pencils, crayons, markers, clay, and tempera paint support perceptual/affective goals such as improving cognition, increasing empathic understanding, identifying emotions, and cause and effect; and (c) resistive media like collage, sculpture with found and recycled materials, and illus- trated books support cognitive/symbolic goals such as developing problem- solving skills and identifying and integrating strengths (Hinz, 2009). The third cognitive/symbolic area of the ETC is further differentiated by Project Zero research, which identifies eight habits of mind supported by studio art,
  • 8. including development of craft, ability to engage and persist, envisioning, 110 K. Ziff et al. TABLE 1 The Expressive Therapies Continuum: Therapeutic Goals and Suggested Materials Continuum Level Therapeutic Goals Suggested Materials I. Kinesthetic/Sensory Relax Soft clay Express feelings Finger paint Watercolor Chalk pastels II. Perceptual/Affective Improve cognition Tempera paint Empathic understanding Crayons Identify feelings Oil pastels Improve social skills Drawing materials Improve attention Understand cause and effect III. Cognitive/Symbolic Develop problem-solving abilities Identify and integrate strengths Collage Sculpture with repurposed materials Clay
  • 9. Mask making Markers Art making with two or more steps Illustrated books and narratives Note. Adapted from Hinz (2009). expression, observation, and reflection (Winner, Hetland, Veenema, Sheridan, & Palmer, 2006). Table 1 shows the three levels of the ETC. Studio art has long been associated with psychological healing and regeneration (Adamson & Timlin, 1990; Essex et al., 1996; Moon, 2002). Douglas and Jaquith (2009) associated choice-based art in the classroom with building skills of problem solving, working habits, reflecting, connect- ing, constructing knowledge, and problem finding. Boldt and Brooks (2006) described how art making by groups of students builds community, supports social skills, and fosters belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. Art making can reduce stress, and for children experiencing cognitive, physi- cal, or emotional stress, a source of relaxation at school can support learning (DeLue, 1999). In studio art therapy, art making is central to the theoretical approach,
  • 10. conceptual understanding of clients and their art making, design and cre- ation of therapeutic work space, and interactions and communications about the process (Moon, 2002). Likewise, an art studio orientation in which stu- dents are supported in their ideas, intentions, decisions, and choices is different from the use of art-based protocols for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. In such an environment where work is facilitated rather than directed, authentic growth and learning can take place (Adamson & Timlin, 1990; McLennan, 2010; Rogers, 1989). ArtBreak offers students an opportu- nity to pursue independent, choice-based art making according to their own ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 111 interests, in a studio furnished with materials and media that reflect and support all three levels of the ETC framework. ASSUMPTIONS ArtBreak is based on the following assumptions: 1. Art making supports children in expressive, affective, and cognitive ways as delineated in the ETC. 2. Art making in a group builds community and develops social
  • 11. skills. 3. Art making in school increases student engagement. 4. Art making supports creativity and divergent thinking. ARTBREAK PILOT OBJECTIVES Our pilot program included five objectives: 1. Learn whether the ETC is applicable to a school-based group studio art format and, if so, how. 2. Provide an opportunity for students to build social skills, develop problem-solving abilities, and relax and express feelings as they choose. 3. Learn whether the logistics of ArtBreak (weekly 30-minute groups) are feasible in a school setting. 4. Create forms and documentation systems for ArtBreak. 5. Identify other learning from the pilot. PILOT PROJECT In its 1st year, the program served 36 children in six groups in one school. The following year, ArtBreak expanded to serve 44 children in two schools in a total of eight groups. Each group, composed of kindergarten through sixth-grade students of diverse ages, genders, and skills, worked together for 30 minutes per week throughout the school year in an open art studio
  • 12. format. Process We followed a simple framework for implementing ArtBreak, available to any practitioner in the field wishing to implement the program. 1. Begin by setting up the art studio; the size and facilities of the space determine the parameters of what can be offered. A room with a sink and 112 K. Ziff et al. shelves can accommodate many options. A very small space can work by having students build sketchbooks to work in and keeping handy a bucket of clean water, damp rags, and a pan for things to be washed later. 2. Using the ETC (see Table 1) as a guide, stock the studio space with at least two kinds of materials from each of the three areas of the ETC, choosing media with which you are familiar. For ideas on acquiring and setting up materials, consultation with a school art educator is helpful. Douglas and Jaquith (2009) also provide advice on how to set up art centers. 3. Introduce teachers, families, and administrators to the
  • 13. ArtBreak pro- gram by inviting teachers to visit the studio and offering art materials as door prizes, hosting an open studio for families at fall parent– teacher conferences, and/or announcing the program in the school newsletter. 4. Invite teachers to refer students and obtain written parent/guardian per- mission for students to participate. We developed a referral form (see Appendix) based upon the ETC. 5. Begin the groups by introducing new materials and processes as students ask or seem ready for them. An ongoing list of “things we need” posted in the studio is a helpful guide for introducing new materials. Daily written reflections by the practitioner are also a good support for deciding about new materials and problem solving. Our ArtBreak groups were organized and facilitated by the school counselor whose role was to model problem solving; demonstrate the use and care of materials; teach skills such as clean-up; introduce new tools; encourage and model supportive behavior, supportive language, and other prosocial skills; keep time; and make decisions about introducing new materials and processes.
  • 14. Students were referred to the groups by their teachers, a school- based intervention team, community mental health professionals, or families. Students were introduced to ArtBreak in a contained format to help them learn the choice-based format. For the first two sessions, the counselor placed an appealing object (e.g., a toy dragon, a clay turtle, an orchid in bloom) on the table and invited students to create an image of it with media of their choice. Students then continued with their own choice of media and projects. More art materials, tools, and processes at all three levels of the ETC were introduced to the ArtBreak groups when students seemed ready or when students asked for them. Some students began making art on cafe- teria trays and chose from a basic set of media from all three sections of the ETC: fluid media such as finger paint, more resistive materials such as oil pastels and colored pencils, and very resistive media such as markers. Other groups began by building sketchbooks from repurposed cardboard, filling them with papers of their choice, and using media from all levels of the ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 113 ETC such as finger paint, water color, chalk pastels, tempera
  • 15. paint, crayons, markers, collage, and “pop-up” creations. Documentation of ArtBreak included the counselor’s weekly notes on each child’s work, including choice of media, the child’s description, and group process. Notes were taken by hand during ArtBreak and transcribed on a laptop. At the end of the day, the counselor wrote reflections about materials, questions, problems and challenges, ideas for improvements, com- munications, and collaborations. The counselor also photographed student work. Some parents requested electronic portfolios of their children’s work, which was accomplished via e-mail. Each ArtBreak session had its own rhythm and challenges. Following are composite vignettes illustrating two very different sessions. The fol- lowing scenario occurred during the ninth session while children worked independently with different media. Six children, ages 5 through 11 years, rush into the school counselor’s room and dive into the apron box for smocks. It is time for ArtBreak in this rural elementary school. Two students head for the back table where their robots are ready for them; they have been under construction for several weeks now, and today the students would decide to work
  • 16. on the problem of how to create and attach moveable arms. A second grader circles the room a time or two before settling on finger paint, choos- ing glossy paper and a selection of paints, dampening the paper with a sponge, and carefully squeezing out globs of paint, while exclaim- ing over the bright hues and the satisfyingly squishy feel of the paint. A fourth grader reaches for her cardboard and duct tape construction and continues to grapple with how she will make a sturdy and mean- ingful object. Another child walks about the room eyeing paints, boxes of collage materials, and the construction corner stacked with cardboard and other repurposed objects. This child selects a 5-gallon plastic jug, mixes tempera paint, and covers the jug with a turquoise and green under-the-seascape. Filling the jug with water makes it hard to handle, so a handful of glass pebbles serves as sea water. A sixth child works carefully on a valentine collage for a sibling. ‘Where’s the music?’ one child shouts. Oops—the counselor forgot to turn it on, and she hits the start button for the jazz CD the group has become accustomed to. The children work steadily for half an hour, talking among themselves and occasionally offering announcements to the group. The
  • 17. counselor moves around the room, supporting problem solving by offering tools, assistance with hole punching, towels when water spills, and a basket of new string and yarn. The counselor occasionally pauses to make notes about what the children are doing and saying. The children try to eke out a few more minutes past the half hour of allotted work time and then help with a whirlwind clean-up. Art is stacked on a rack to dry, and the counselor takes 5 minutes to write down notes about the group’s process and reminders about materials or room rearrangements needed. 114 K. Ziff et al. Morning ArtBreak ends; the counselor gets the room ready for the rest of the day, which will include an afternoon session with a different group. In the next scenario, upper-elementary boys are in their 12th week of ArtBreak. By this time, the group had formed a working community, and all elected to embark on sewing projects. Six boys enter the room and walk around, examining the latest addi- tions to the cardboard sculpture center and plunging their hands
  • 18. into the giant bowl of buttons. The counselor points out a shelf newly stocked with fabric, and there are exclamations—the boys have been anxious to sew for 2 weeks, ever since one of them fashioned large pieces of fleece scraps into a lap blanket for his teacher. All of them decide to work on fabric projects and they rummage through wool remnants, flan- nel yardage, cotton batting, threads, and needles. They decide to make pillows of varying sizes, and chaos ensues with cries such as: ‘How do you thread the needle?’; ‘How do I knot the thread?; ‘Will you help me straighten out my pillow?’; ’I need help! These scissors won’t cut this material’; ‘I asked first for help!’; and ‘No, I did!’ One boy has an outburst of impatience and retreats to the counselor’s desk to recover, rejoining the sewing table after a few minutes. The counselor gives a brief demon- stration of a running stitch (wishing she had purchased thicker thread that would tangle less easily). Ten minutes of calm descend upon the room, the boys carefully stitching. ‘I thought sewing was girly but it’s not,’ one of them offers to the group. ‘We like this,’ a few boys reply. ‘So shorter stitches make the sewing stronger, don’t they?’ notes another student. ‘You know, this is relaxing,’ declares the student who
  • 19. had the impatient outburst. Then, another rush of calls for assistance occurs as the boys hurry to finish up their projects so they can take them home that day. A bag of polyester batting is passed around, and pillows of cotton flannel, calico, and fake fur ranging in size from 6 to 18 inches long are stuffed, stitched, and tried out. One boy shouts with frustration about finding a way to bring his completed cardboard structure from the previous week safely home on the bus; another student comes to his aid, rummaging in the sculpture center for just the right size box. The boys rush back to their classrooms to get ready to go home for the day. The counselor sits down and thinks about how she might have created a more orderly introduction to sewing. The next day, the school psychologist, after listening to an account of the sewing group, reflected that the session was a model for the boys in moving from chaos to calm productivity. ADAPTATIONS ArtBreak could be offered to children by classroom teachers and in other settings such as libraries and mental health centers. ArtBreak could also be
  • 20. ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 115 adapted for middle and high schools. During the pilot, teachers requested an ArtBreak for themselves, which could be offered on a drop- in basis. The counseling center of George Washington University offered to students an ArtBreak program of structured art-based activities to support creativity and mental health (Gladding, 2011). Campus programs could include an ongoing ArtBreak in a studio format based on the atelier model offered by the Medical College of Pennsylvania (Bartley, 1997) to its students in a course entitled Medicine and Art. REQUIREMENTS AND LIMITATIONS ArtBreak is situated in a school-based group-art studio environment facili- tated by a school counselor; participating students have been referred for support with goals listed on the referral form (see Appendix) aligned with the ETC. Therefore, ethical considerations addressed included (a) necessity for written parent/guardian permission for students to participate; (b) pri- vacy and confidentiality related to student work; (c) written parent/family permission for use of student work in public presentations; (d) considera-
  • 21. tions for managing requests from education professionals to visit an ArtBreak group; and (e) a working knowledge of the ETC and its associated art- making materials by the ArtBreak facilitator. Space is also a consideration. A space with no running water needs cleaning, a container of water for watercolor paints, and a bucket for used brushes. A small room can accom- modate ArtBreak with groups of three to four children and creative use of space. Funds are necessary for many of the art supplies needed, though construction/sculpture and collage materials can be obtained free from a variety of sources. DISCUSSION ETC Learning from the pilot program encompassed three areas: the ETC, com- munity, and logistics. In regard to the ETC, ArtBreak students worked at all three levels of the ETC. Figure 1 shows kinesthetic enjoyment of paint. In Figure 2, a student has used collage and pastels to express a relationship, a function of the perceptual/affective level of the ETC. Figure 3 illustrates use of construction materials and multistep problem-solving processes at the cognitive end of the ETC.
  • 22. Some children spent months using the same medium. Others began at one end of the continuum and moved to the other end (e.g., from chalk pastels to multistep sculptures or from markers and construction to finger paint). Teachers referred students to ArtBreak for reasons at all three levels 116 K. Ziff et al. FIGURE 1 Fluid media can encourage tactile expressiveness. The Garden of Rain, watercolor spattered on paper. Printed with permission. FIGURE 2 Media with some resistiveness can encourage exploration of relationships and cause and effect. Earth With Ocean, Fish, and Moon, collage with paper and chalk pastels. Printed with permission. of the ETC. Referral reasons for the 44 students in the 2010– 2011 program were: kinesthetic/sensory reasons, such as relaxation, for 14 students; perceptual/affective reasons, such as improving attention and social skills, for 25 students; and cognitive/symbolic support, such as integrating personal strengths or improving problem-solving skills, for 5 students. Of the 44 stu- dents, 31 were boys and 13 were girls. ArtBreak supported some students in making progress on referral goals. Some, referred to ArtBreak
  • 23. for a needed break from the academic or social demands of the classroom, found the group a relaxing experience. Several children with social skills goals became more comfortable with new processes and new people, and they later ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 117 FIGURE 3 Resistive media can encourage creative problem solving. School of the Future With Roof That Opens, cardboard, tempera paint, yarn. Printed with permission. demonstrated the ability to engage in meaningful social interactions in the group and in the classroom. In several cases, students made great improve- ments in prosocial behaviors in both the group and classroom settings. A child with behavior goals became positively engaged in ArtBreak— completing work and offering to help others—as well as in the classroom. A child who was referred to develop skills of concentration worked with steady focus in ArtBreak, carefully making cardboard constructions meaningful to him. His teacher later noted increased focus in the classroom. Community
  • 24. In regard to community, the ArtBreak groups became supportive commu- nities where students felt safe to explore pursuits of their own choosing. Students helped each other solve problems, practiced and developed pos- itive social skills in the groups, learned how to be flexible and tolerate frustration, and made friends. We found that mixing ages in the groups offered advantages by freeing students from preexisting classroom-based expectations and friendships. The ArtBreak pilot flourished with the support of a community of adults inside and outside the school district. Teachers, the school intervention team, community mental health specialists, and families referred students for 118 K. Ziff et al. participation. Students also referred themselves, and ArtBreak participants referred their friends. School art educators helped identify resources for sup- plies, and students brought to ArtBreak the skills they learned in their art classes. Principals and school district administrators provided funds for key supplies and materials. School psychologists collaborated during all steps of the ArtBreak pilot. A university faculty member provided
  • 25. consultation and served as a writing and research collaborator. School staff as well as local business establishments donated materials for students to use for art making. Logistics With regard to logistics, we learned that although the half-hour format fits well within the context of a busy school day, it is a bare minimum amount of time for students to decide upon and begin a project. Some students embarked on complex projects requiring multiple sessions, but no matter what the project, a half hour seems to be a minimum for students to have a satisfying experience. Though students are taught clean-up skills, there is usually little time for thorough clean up in a 30-minute period. Therefore, the counselor needs additional time after each group to complete the cleaning process. Some students, though, seemed to find cleaning up meaningful, especially when it involved running water. Finding time in the counselor’s day to offer enough ArtBreak sessions to meet demand was a challenge. Finally, acquisition of materials, especially keeping the sculpture center well stocked with cardboard boxes and other repurposed items, is a continuing process requiring time and ingenuity.
  • 26. CONCLUSION The ETC is a valuable framework for selecting and providing media in our ArtBreak studio. It is also a useful guide for reflecting upon art made by students and deciding about materials that should be introduced. The ETC provides a practical structure for referring students for participation in ArtBreak. ArtBreak also seems to support sensory, affective, and cognitive development of its participants. Our documentation of the ArtBreak pilot generated a considerable quantity of materials: photographs, hand-written reflections, and notes on conversations with teachers and administrators, children, and families. This process of reflection and documentation helped guide the work through the school year. Counselors or others setting up a similar program should plan for daily time to reflect and document their work. It would be helpful also to set up a structure for assessing each student’s progress on referral goals. ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 119 REFERENCES
  • 27. Adamson, E., & Timlin, J. (1990). Art as healing. Boston, MA: Coventure. Allan, J. (1988). Inscapes of the child’s world. Dallas, TX: Spring Publications. Bartley, M. (1997). Creativity and medicine: An atelier in medical school. International Journal of Arts Medicine, 5(2), 36–39. Boldt, R., & Brooks, C. (2006). Creative arts: Strengthening academics and building community with students at risk. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 14, 223–227. DeLue, C. H. (1999). Physiological effects of creating mandalas. In C. Malchiodi, (Ed.), Medical art therapy with children (pp. 33–49). London, UK: Jessica Kingsley. Douglas, K., & Jaquith, D. (2009). Engaging learners through art making: Choice- based art education in the classroom. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Essex, M., Frostig, K., & Hertz, J. (1996). In the service of children: Art and expressive therapies in public schools. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 14(1), 181–190. Gandini, L., Hill, L., Cadwell, L., & Schwall, C. (2005). In the spirit of the studio: Learning from the atelier of Reggio Emilia. New York, NY: Teachers College
  • 28. Press. Gladding, S. T. (2011). Counseling as an art: The creative arts in counseling (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association. Hinz, L. (2009). Expressive therapies continuum: A framework for using art in therapy. New York, NY: Routledge. Kagin, S. A., & Lusebrink, V. B. (1978). The expressive therapies continuum. Art Psychotherapy, 5, 171–180. Kosik, K. S. (2009, May). Creativity, the arts, literature and learning. In M. M. Hardiman & K. S. Kosik (Chairst), Creative brain: Using brain research on cre- ativity & the arts to improve learning. Symposium conducted at the meeting of Learning and the Brain, Washington, DC. Malchiodi, C. A. (1996). Art therapy in schools. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 13(2), 2–4. McLennan, D. (2010). Process or product: The argument for aesthetic explo- ration in the early years. Early Childhood Education Journal, 38, 81–85. doi:10.1007/s10643-010-0411-3 Moon, C. (2002). Studio art therapy: Cultivating the artist identity in the art therapist. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • 29. Pelo, A. (2007). The language of art: Inquiry-based studio practices in early childhood settings. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press. Pleasant-Metcalf, A., & Rosal, M. (1997). The use of art therapy to improve academic performance. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 14(1), 23–29. President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. (2011). Reinvesting in arts education: Winning America’s future through creative schools. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.pcah.gov/publications. Rogers, C. R. (1989). Personal thoughts on teaching and learning. In H. Kirschenbaum & V. Henderson (Eds.), The Carl Rogers reader (pp. 301–304). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. 120 K. Ziff et al. Rosal, M., McCulloch-Vislisel, S., & Neece, S. (1997). Keeping students in school: An art therapy program to benefit ninth-grade students. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 14(1), 30–36. Somody, C., & Hobbs, M. (2006/2007). Paper bag books: A creative intervention with elementary school children experiencing high-conflict parental divorce.
  • 30. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 2(3), 73–87. doi:10.1300/J456v02n03_07 Szekely, G. (2006). How children make art: Lessons in creativity from home to school. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Winner, E., Hetland, L., Veenema, S., Sheridan, K., & Palmer, P. (2006). Studio think- ing: How visual arts teaching can promote disciplined habits of mind. In P. Locher, C. Martindale, L. Dorfman, & D. Leontiev (Eds.), New directions in aesthetics, creativity, and the arts (pp. 189–205). Amityville, NY: Baywood. Katherine Ziff is a School Counselor at Athens City School District, The Plains, Ohio. Lori Pierce and Sue Johanson are School Psychologists at Athens City School District, The Plains, Ohio. Margaret King is Professor Emerita in the Patton College of Education and Human Services at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. ArtBreak: Creative Group Counseling 121 APPENDIX ArtBreak Referral Form
  • 31. Student’s Name: ________________ Classroom Teacher: _______________ Primary Reason for Referral Other Reasons (check one) (check as many as apply) Kinesthetic/sensory reasons for referral Express feelings: is sad...................... ..................................................( ) ( )........................................................ Express feelings: is angry................. ..................................................( ) ( )........................................................ Express feelings: is upset................. ..................................................( ) ( )........................................................ Needs a chance to relax.................... ..................................................( ) ( )........................................................ Needs a break from academic demands...................................( ) ( )........................................................ Needs a break from social demands...................................( ) ( )........................................................ Perceptual/affective reasons for referral
  • 32. Develop empathic understanding for self or others.......................( ) ( )........................................................ Identify feelings in self and others........................................( ) ( )........................................................ Understand cause and effect............. ..................................................( ) ( )........................................................ Support social skills........................... ..................................................( ) ( )........................................................ Support attention and focus.............. ..................................................( ) ( )........................................................ Cognitive/symbolic reasons for referral Support problem-solving skills..........................................( ) ( )........................................................ Identify and integrate personal strengths...................................( ) ( )........................................................ Details or other reason for referral: Note. Referral form developed by Katherine Ziff based upon the ETC framework as presented in Hinz (2009).
  • 33. Copyright of Journal of Creativity in Mental Health is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 8:395–415, 2013 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1540-1383 print/1540-1391 online DOI: 10.1080/15401383.2013.844660 CREATING SPACE FOR CONNECTION: A COLUMN FOR CREATIVE PRACTICE Counseling Groups: A Creative Strategy Increasing Children of Incarcerated Parents’ Sociorelational Interactions ANGELICA LOPEZ The Village South/WestCare, Miami, Florida, USA ISAAC BURT Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA Children of incarcerated parents are at a greater risk for devel- oping social and relational issues due to negative socialization.
  • 34. By using a creative integration of imagery, bibliotherapy, and tra- ditional group counseling, this intervention addresses children’s relational and social competencies. The purpose of this article is to provide mental health counselors with a creative, pragmatic approach to use with youth struggling with relational issues. The brief, 6-week intervention outlined in this article may benefit chil- dren both socially and behaviorally. Improvement in social and relational competencies helps youth form healthy relationships in the future. KEYWORDS parental incarceration, children, counseling group, social and relational abilities, group intervention, creativity in counseling During the last decade, incarceration has risen considerably due to a num- ber of risk factors such as poverty, low parental education, and absence of parental figures (Harper & McLanahan, 2004). The dramatic growth in Address correspondence to Angelica Lopez, The Village South/WestCare, 169 East Flagler Street, Suite 1300, Miami, FL 33131, USA. E-mail: [email protected] 395 396 A. Lopez and I. Burt the number of parents being held in state and federal prisons is
  • 35. of par- ticular concern. For example, Glaze and Maruschak (2008) reported a 79% increase in the number of parents being held in state and federal prisons from 1991 to 2007, while custodial populations grew by 92%. Furthermore, in midyear 2007, 52% of state and 63% of federal inmates reported hav- ing at least one child younger than the age of 18 (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008). Unfortunately, children who witness their parent’s arrest and con- viction are the ones left with the complications of putting their life back together. Usually referred to as the hidden or invisible victims, these children are understudied and underserved, making them an extremely vulnerable population (Miller, 2006). Initially confused by their parent’s absence, most children experience a wide range of emotions and behaviors (Geller, Garfinkel, Cooper, & Mincy, 2009). For example, some boys may display rebellious, angry, or undisci- plined behaviors such as acting out and getting into fights to solicit attention (Burt & Butler, 2011). Other boys may exhibit shyness, anxiety, para- noia, and reticence, particularly around adults (Davies, Brazzell, La Vigne, & Shollenberger, 2008). Additionally, two of the most common emotions that plague children of incarcerated parents are embarrassment
  • 36. and shame (Miller, 2006). Increased embarrassment and shame affect children’s social and relational development with peers and adults. Consequently, Miller (2006) reported that some youth go as far as shutting down to avoid talk- ing about their parent’s incarceration. It is also common for many children to lie to protect themselves from emotional pain and social isolation. Lying then becomes a secondary habit that may enter into adulthood and cause further social and relational problems (Johnston, 1995). Succinctly stated, a number of harmful issues negatively amalgamate to affect children’s social and relational abilities due to parental incarceration (Miller, 2006). A direct consequence resulting from the preceding factors is that chil- dren of incarcerated parents are often apprehensive to create social bonds, as they fear others may become aware of their family status. The result is that these children oftentimes find themselves feeling alone with few, if any, people with whom they can relate or talk to (Nesmith & Ruhland, 2008; Phillips & Gates, 2011). Further, Phillips and Gates (2011) identified the fear children experience as a type of stigmatization. According to Phillips and Gates, stigmatization is the process of having negative characteristics applied
  • 37. to a person. Consequently, these negative attributes result in devaluation, stereotyping, and discriminatory treatment. Isolation begins to develop, and detachment from others inhibits children from forming social ties and bonds (Miller, 2006). For example, previous researchers found that children worry about how others view them after learning about their situation (Phillips & Gates, 2011). Worry and anxiety combine, leading to social fear and loss of social and relational competencies. Children of Incarcerated Parents 397 LOSS OF SOCIAL AND RELATIONAL COMPETENCIES The impact of parental separation and loss of social and relational competencies can differ, depending on whether the incarcerated parent is the mother or father. Davies et al. (2008) specifically identified a mother’s incar- ceration as more detrimental to a child’s capacity for forming relationships compared with incarceration of a father. Among many reasons, the pivotal role that mothers often play as primary caretaker in the child’s life explains this outcome (Davies et al., 2008). Additionally, a father’s absence due to incarceration oftentimes leaves the sole caretaking to the mother (Glaze &
  • 38. Maruschak, 2008). If the mother then commits a crime that leads to incar- ceration, it causes a major disruption and parental absence in the child’s life. The loss of both parents results in a grandparent or other relative providing care for the child, or leads to placement in the child welfare or foster care system. Feelings of abandonment, anger, and anxiety may increase and might impede the child’s ability to establish and maintain relationships with others (Phillips & Gates, 2011). Furthermore, Glaze and Maruschak (2008) concluded that regardless of the sex of the parent, incar- ceration influences children’s social and relational abilities and interactions tremendously. The Influence of Attachment According to Bandura (2008), the level of parental attachment and role- modeling directly affects a child’s behavior. For example, if the attachment level is high and the parent models inappropriate behavior, the child is likely to mimic the actions of the adult (Bandura, 2008). Youth’s imitative behavior may serve as an undesirable “coming of age” or “badge of honor” with the parent and in the juvenile system. However, even if parental attachment is not high, but the child perceives it to be, it also directly influences social and
  • 39. relational abilities (Burt & Butler, 2011). An example of the influence of the perception of attachment is an incar- cerated parent who is not present in a child’s life. However, the child may believe mimicking behaviors similar to the incarcerated parent will create a bond between them, therefore compensating for the physical absence. Thus, the rationale of the child is as follows: Imitating behaviors will build a stronger relationship and increase attachment between parent and child (Phillips & Gates, 2011). Although this dubious logic may not be accurate, it provides the child with feelings of hope (Burt & Butler, 2011). As a result, a potentially distorted perception of the attachment between parent and child begins to develop (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). Clearly, the perception of attach- ment (real or imagined) is critical for this population. Lastly, recent studies indicate the sex of the incarcerated parent greatly affects attachment as well (Phillips & Gates, 2011). 398 A. Lopez and I. Burt NEGATIVE PARENTAL ATTACHMENT AND THE INCARCERATED MOTHER Traditionally, society views mothers (women) as more nurturing
  • 40. than fathers, or men, and less likely to have a negative parental attachment (Burt, 2013). Operationally defined, negative parental attachment is when a parent develops an attachment that promotes anxiety, sadness, anger, or fear in the child (Phillips & Gates, 2011). As a result, researchers believe nega- tive parental attachment is worse when it is the mother who is incarcerated (Phillips & Gates, 2011). Although current researchers have asserted this view is not entirely accurate, the idea continues to persist in society (Cross & Campbell, 2011). Consequently, an incarcerated mother violates the soci- etal norm of the nurturing maternal figure (Johnson & Easterling, 2012). Violation of this social standard further stigmatizes youth, as society looks down on jailed individuals (Shlafer, Poehlmann, & Donelan- McCall, 2012). Further, according to societal norms, the mother should be the one lov- ing and nurturing the child (Kjellstrand, Cearley, Eddy, Foney, & Martinez, 2012). Although sex does not necessarily determine the ability to provide attachment and nurturing, having a mother (or woman) act in ways that contradict societal norms and functioning may be mentally detrimental for children (Cross & Campbell, 2011). Hence, the child receives the following implicit message from society: The person who should provide
  • 41. care and love for you is absent and negligent (Shlafer et al., 2012). The impact of this message is critical in that it affects children’s ability to socialize and build relationships with others (Kjellstrand et al., 2012). To further illustrate the impact of female parental incarceration on chil- dren’s social and relational skills, Glaze and Maruschak (2008) conducted a study evaluating children of incarcerated mothers in state prisons. Glaze and Maruschak indicated grandmothers (42%) and other relatives (23%) were pri- mary caretakers. Furthermore, while in the custody of others, youth would imitate behaviors similar to the incarcerated mother. Although the mother was absent, some youth perceived a bond or link with her through their actions. Additionally, a large percentage of fathers (88%) reported that at least one of their children was residing in the care of the child’s mother or another person. Obviously, this population has distinct behavioral and relational problems that mental health and school counselors should address. AN UNDERSERVED POPULATION Phillips and Gates (2011) indicated counselors should address the impact of parental incarceration on a child’s social and relational ability, as it is
  • 42. extremely important. Although awareness of the influence of parental incar- ceration on children’s social capabilities continues to rise, information on effective services remains limited. An explanation by Miller (2006) discussed this discrepancy. He suggested that while literature provides practitioners Children of Incarcerated Parents 399 with awareness of the multitude of problems, there is an absence of specific interventions addressing this distinct population. Lopez and Bhat (2007) addi- tionally stated, “Despite alarming statistics, research on school- based support services remains limited” (p. 140). Moreover, Nesmith and Ruhland (2008) put forth the idea that interventions not only need to address relational behaviors, but also need to draw upon the population’s unique strengths. Researchers indicate this population has distinct characteristics such as resiliency and dedication (Phillips & Gates, 2011). As such, mental health counselors need to be creative in developing interventions when reaching out to this popula- tion. Creative, strength-based interventions are critical with populations that may not respond well to traditional therapeutic modalities (Burt, 2013).
  • 43. By creating interventions that focus on strengths, rather than deficits, tra- ditionally underserved populations may demonstrate increased commitment and respond more positively (Gladding, 2012). Furthermore, due to mone- tary limitations in schools and community settings, mental health and school counselors have to be creative in developing economical interventions. In essence, counselors need to draw upon the strengths of this popula- tion, avoid social isolation of children, and at the same time, utilize resources to their economic maximum (Burt & Butler, 2011). Clearly, children of incar- cerated parents are an underserved population with distinct attributes and characteristics not seen in other populations (Miller, 2006). Thus, coupled with these distinct traits and the burden of economic limitations, a dilemma arises for mental health and school counselors: How do counselors develop creative and inexpensive interventions while simultaneously reaching out to as many individuals as possible? Economic Limitations and the Need for Creative Interventions As mentioned previously, economic resources are less readily available in schools and community centers (Burt & Butler, 2011). For children of incar- cerated parents, the impact of inadequate economic resources
  • 44. may be even more detrimental than for the average child. For example, family income and home stability are areas in which children with incarcerated parents suffer dramatically. Geller et al. (2009) explained reasons for economic disparity and loss of familial stability, including a discussion of how these factors combine to affect children negatively. First, following a parent’s incarcer- ation, there are fewer financial resources available to the family (i.e., loss of income). Furthermore, the possibility of needing legal representation exists as well, as not all families’ socioeconomic status qualifies for a public defender. Second, loss of income directly affects children through lack of resources to provide adequate nutritional diets. Thus, some children do not receive the necessary vitamins and nutrients required for developing youth. Due to loss of income, many children receive little to no health care and may experience other losses such as lack of clothing, school supplies, and 400 A. Lopez and I. Burt availability of technology. Furthermore, if the primary caretaker is incarcer- ated and there are limited capacities for support and supervision, relationship
  • 45. breakdowns and negative socialization effects are likely to occur (Murray & Farrington, 2005). These negative socialization and relationship problems are exacerbated if children also attend academically ineffective schools (Burt & Butler, 2011). POTENTIAL RESOURCES AS POSITIVE ROLE MODELS While researchers demonstrate the challenges children face due to incar- cerated parents (Phillips & Gates, 2011), questions remain about what resolutions exist that offset these problematic issues. One identified solution to decrease the risk for economic hardship and relational instability is to develop creative family service interventions that ameliorate material hardship and ensure social stability (Geller et al., 2009). Examples of family service interventions are free workshops conducted by counselors, certified public accounts, and other professionals at local community centers. Burt and Butler (2011) supported the idea of professionals providing free services at community centers. They further stated that professionals providing services could do so voluntarily, or on a pro-bono basis. Provision of free services not only assists the family unit, but it also offers a potential additional benefit to the child.
  • 46. As stated by Bandura (2008), adults provide implicit direction and learn- ing to children through modeling. The professional who is offering the free service is a potential role model for the child, and they may emulate the positive behavior observed (Burt & Butler, 2011). By offering free services, the professional’s altruistic behavior can serve as a buffer against negative parental models. Succinctly stated, children need an appropriate person with which to identify, as modeling is critical for the development of children (Bandura, 2008). For instance, Murray and Farrington (2005) asserted that an alarming rate of incarcerated parents have children who desperately lack positive role models. Consequently, an emerging need exists for men- tal health and school counselors to use effective, creative interventions to alleviate the hardship these children endure. DEVELOPMENTAL CHALLENGES Nesmith and Ruhland (2008) stated that without creative and novel inter- ventions, children’s responses to incarceration or other social trauma could manifest later on in negative developmental behaviors. In the past, research has indicated that behavioral techniques are best suited to deal effectively with these antisocial and delinquent behaviors and responses. However,
  • 47. current literature suggests otherwise. Roysircar (2009), for example, stated that due to an increased awareness of multiculturalism, many traditional talk therapies are no longer appropriate. She further asserted that instead Children of Incarcerated Parents 401 of strict behavioral strategies, counselors should use creative culturally sen- sitive treatments. Burt and Butler (2011), as well as Gladding (2012), agree with and support Roysircar’s assertions. Burt and Butler stated that traditional talk therapies may not be as effective with the current generation of clients exhibiting potentially destructive behaviors. Examples of such behaviors are hypervigilance, sexualized behavior, and excessive verbal and physi- cal aggression. Boys, in particular, may benefit from creative interventions as they may display delinquent and antisocial behavior due to parental incarceration (Davies et al., 2008). Murray and Farrington (2005) found that 71% of men who experienced parental incarceration during childhood had more antisocial and delinquent behavioral outcomes at 32 years of age. GROUP BENEFITS
  • 48. Although risks for children of incarcerated parents are evident, key factors such as social support systems and increased self-efficacy are imperative for growth and development (Bandura, 2008). Nontraditional group counseling focusing on empowerment, self-efficacy, and creativity has shown success with underserved populations (Burt, 2013). Groups provide a social sphere that promotes exploration of commonalities in a nonjudgmental atmosphere. Furthermore, nonjudgmental groups encompass creative strategies such as rope courses, martial arts, and bibliotherapy (Burt, 2013). Groups can play a primary role in assisting children of incarcerated parents with needed resources that may break the cyclical pattern of intergenerational criminal- ity. Murray and Farrington (2005) stated that when parental incarceration occurs, there should be an extensive range of creative support services that counselors offer. Burt and Butler (2011) suggested group counseling that focuses on empowerment and self-efficacy may be a creative alternative counselors can use with this distinct, underserved population. The conceptual group described in this article may serve as a use- ful intervention that provides mental health and school counselors with a creative method to work with children of incarcerated parents. Thus, the
  • 49. intent of this article is twofold: (a) to improve children’s social and rela- tional competencies, and (b) to provide counselors with a creative, pragmatic resource that reaches out to children of incarcerated parents, an underserved population. GROUP PROCESSES Main Objectives of the Group The primary purpose of this conceptual counseling group is to increase chil- dren’s social and relational competencies. To accomplish this goal, members must attain several objectives during the group’s lifespan: 402 A. Lopez and I. Burt 1. Decrease the effect of social stigma and isolation by allowing members to voice freely their thoughts and feelings regarding parental incarceration. 2. Improve self-esteem by increasing children’s sense of belonging through providing a warm, caring environment where they can see others have issues similar to theirs (Bandura, 2008). An additional benefit children receive from having a warm, supportive environment is that it may help alleviate confusion and stigma that have arisen due to negative
  • 50. social experiences (e.g., parent’s incarceration; Bandura, 2008). 3. Increase empowerment through use of collaborative exercises, pair sharing, and bibliotherapy. 4. Use role-plays and collaborative exercises to help members begin to make appropriate choices, as well as improve academic, social, relational, and behavioral decision-making. 5. Use positive interactions, role-modeling, pair sharing, and bibliotherapy to guide members to begin forming healthy relationships in and outside group sessions. Miller (2006) stated, “When children have access to resources that help them cope with developmental challenges, they successfully achieve developmental tasks” (p. 478). Through attaining these objectives, members benefit and learn to build established, trustful relationships. Furthermore, members begin to understand their feelings and the feelings of those around them, as they relate better to others. Ultimately, this understanding assists in developing healthy coping skills that support children’s social and relational skills into adolescence and adulthood (Burt & Butler, 2011). Facilitator Style and Theoretical Considerations
  • 51. According to Gladding (2012), facilitation style is a crucial factor contributing to the successfulness of a group. When groups provide therapeutic ser- vices for children, appropriate facilitation style may be even more critical for positive outcomes (Burt & Butler, 2011). For groups serving underserved and underage populations (e.g., children and adolescents), several specific facilitator and group characteristics must exist (Burt, 2013). For example, specific factors may include creativity, empathy, and appropriate disclosure (Corey, 2011). However, for underserved populations such as children of incarcerated parents, an additional number of factors need addressing. For example, facilitation with children of incarcerated parents must include struc- ture, appropriate social limits, and consistency to serve as a buffer against the instability in their lives (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). Democratic facilitation, a leadership style that trusts members to develop their own potential as well as that of others in the group, assists in providing clear explanations of group format, leadership roles, and group expectations, while contribut- ing to successful outcomes (Gladding, 2012; Price & Limberg, 2013). Due to
  • 52. Children of Incarcerated Parents 403 the distrust that is typical among children with incarcerated parents (Bender, 2003), direction from the facilitator will occur at the start and end of each group meeting. Facilitators will primarily focus on the here- and-now and will help group members to apply gained insights into making changes in their lives (Burt & Butler, 2011). This conceptual group’s theoretical orientation relies heavily on Carl Rogers’s person-centered therapy, which emphasizes empathy and uncon- ditional positive regard. Although there is a focus on Rogerian concepts, many features of the group are eclectic in nature. This group also uses tech- niques from other theories in an organized manner. These techniques include bibliotherapy, art therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Labeled techni- cal eclecticism, this style allows the facilitator to use a strong theoretical base and draw from other conceptual techniques systematically (Young, 2013). Springer, Lynch, and Rubin (2000) advocate the importance of highlighting children’s strengths to help youth understand that their parent’s inappropri- ate actions do not make the child a bad person, nor do their actions mean that the child is at fault. Focus on the here-and-now occurs during session
  • 53. activities whereby children begin to receive feedback about their behavior, are able to practice new social skills, and learn how peers perceive them (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). Logistics and Prescreening Groups consist of 6–10 children, approximately 6–11 years of age and in grades second through fifth. The facilitator needs to work collaboratively with administrators, teachers, and school counselors for the group to be suc- cessful (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). Teachers and counselors alike monitor the children around them for appropriate group fit and serve as a prescreening tool to identify children in need of this service. Selection of potential mem- bers is from a list that teachers provide to counselors that notes excessive behavioral problems within the 6-week academic semester. Potential mem- bers must have at least four documented instances of severe behavioral problems in the 6-week period, in addition to having confirmation of an incarcerated parent. There must be evidence of (a) fighting, (b) verbal attacks on peers and teachers, (c) four or more unexcused absences, and (d) in-school or out-of-school suspensions (Burt & Butler, 2011). After identification of potential participants, each one will meet
  • 54. indi- vidually with the group facilitator (i.e., mental health or school counselor). The facilitator explains the group’s purpose and discusses the opportunity to interact with others in similar situations and to engage in activities that promote self-esteem and social skills (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). The facilitator also converses with each potential participant about any personal goals they may have at this time. Prior to any group meetings, the facilitator has each member sign a child assent form, and a parent or guardian signs an informed consent. 404 A. Lopez and I. Burt DESCRIPTION OF SESSION PLANS First and Second Sessions Basic rules for the group consist of respect for people’s thoughts, beliefs, and values (Gladding, 2012). These rules are similar to school protocols where members will not physically assault others, will refrain from cursing, and will allow others to talk (Burt, 2013). The facilitator discusses confidentiality in the pregroup meeting and reinforces it as a topic of importance. At the end of each session (Table 1), the facilitator will allocate 10
  • 55. minutes for reflection and summarization. FIRST SESSION The first session, an introduction meeting, focuses on relieving anxiety. Members break the ice, introduce themselves, and discuss basic ground rules and expectations. To ensure that members know they are there for a common purpose, the facilitator restates the purpose of the group. Next, the facilitator uses nonthreatening collaborative exercises so mem- bers get to know each other better while reducing apprehension and anxiety (Springer et al., 2000). During this activity, members spread out from each other and throw around a soft rubber or cloth ball. When a member catches the ball, he or she tells the group something about him or herself. In this activity, all members engage in a socially interactive activity and feel less pressure in front of the group to disclose things about themselves. The facil- itator demonstrates how to do the activity by performing the activity before the rest of the group. Burt, Patel, and Lewis (2012) discuss an activity in which members find commonalties between one another, which can increase cohesion and
  • 56. reduce anxiety. In this activity, members go through a process of identifying adult role models. Each member specifies and discusses a person, as well as what makes the person special. According to Burt et al. (2012), cohesion increases as members see that others choose similar people (e.g., a family member or celebrity). Anxiety also decreases as connections between mem- bers begin to develop (e.g., role models chosen based on similar likes and characteristics). Thus, the objective of the first session is to allow members to begin to form bonds and group cohesion as they develop a sense of relation to one another. SECOND SESSION The second session focuses on further disclosure, development of group cohesion, and establishing trust. Here, members continue to get to know each other and feel more comfortable with the relationships forming in this process. Activities in this session allow members to express how T A B L
  • 125. n g fe e li n g s o f ac co m p li sh m e n t. 406 Children of Incarcerated Parents 407 they view themselves. Additionally, exercises in this session emphasize the identification of individual strengths and fears while helping members
  • 126. recognize that they are not alone (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). One creative activity the facilitator uses to achieve this objective is to have members write a fear on a small piece of paper, fold it up, and drop it into a hat. Members then take a turn reaching into the hat and reading the fear they pick. Members test their social and relational abilities by shar- ing whether they have felt similarly to other group members. Proceeding in this manner allows members to engage in a way that reduces fear. This activity is especially helpful for children, as they sometimes feel as though they cannot relate to others, or they believe no one understands their feel- ings. Nesmith and Ruhland (2008) state that children who suffer from social stigma and isolation are often unable to connect to others or find peo- ple they can trust. As a result, these children feel socially marginalized or ostracized. Blanton, Christensen, and Shakir (2006) suggest using collaborative activities to increase trust and cohesion in a group. An example is the col- laborative activity that Blanton et al. label Rattlesnake. In this activity, group members attempt to devise strategies to help blindfolded members locate a hidden rattle. The group forms a standing circle as the facilitator gives a rattle
  • 127. to a member. The facilitator blindfolds another member and tells the person to locate the rattle by touching the individual holding the rattle. Both group members enter the circle as the individual with the rattle attempts to avoid being touched. Members forming the circle collaborate and brainstorm ideas to help the blindfolded person accomplish the goal of locating the hidden rattle. Through this collaboration activity, all members win. One person attains a goal as others take pride in assisting a member’s accomplishment. According to Blanton et al. (2006), these types of collaborative activities serve to increase cohesion as members begin to build trust through working together. Third and Fourth Sessions The third and fourth sessions focus on identifying additional social support, improving trust in relationships, reducing feelings of isolation, building self- esteem, and identifying personal strengths. THIRD SESSION As the group progresses into the third session, it is important to identify additional social support available to members once the group terminates.
  • 128. One way the facilitator begins this process is through a family or community genogram. Here, members identify people in their lives that they trust and 408 A. Lopez and I. Burt with whom they may be able to disclose their feelings. As evidenced by Nesmith and Ruhland (2008), children of incarcerated parents often struggle with finding anyone to trust in their lives. However, members may begin to see improved relationships with others as group sessions transform their social and relational abilities with those around them. According to Phillips and Gates (2011), improved relationships assist in reducing the isolation that children may feel. The facilitator also utilizes bibliotherapy by reading the book My Daddy is in Jail (Bender, 2003). Discussion after the reading explores how members were able to identify with the character (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). This activity allows members to discuss fears and identify coping strategies that help to normalize their situation. Furthermore, the facilitator engages members in a dialogue involving how coping strategies can negate harmful emotions or thoughts (e.g., sadness, thoughts of social inadequacy)
  • 129. experienced during the period of parental incarceration. After leading a discussion on appropriate and inappropriate ways to express angry feelings, members participate in an activity labeled Feeling Monsters. In this activity, the facilitator provides members with a slab of molding clay that they mold into a figure of their choosing, symbolizing angry or other unresolved emotions. Members then share their “monsters” and explain the feeling they chose and their reasoning. This activity helps to facilitate discussion, and perhaps resolution, of feelings members may be otherwise unable to disclose, as well as sort out any displaced anger or unresolved emotions in a positive manner (Bender, 2003). Discussion of helpful coping techniques, such as talking to someone, drawing, writing a letter, and journaling during times of stress may prove useful during these stages (Nesmith & Ruhland, 2008). It is through these creative, alternate cop- ing strategies that members begin to identify and form relationships with peers (Miller, 2006). Through positive social bonding, youth begin to develop strong relationship skills that can possibly prevent future unproductive and destructive behavior (Bandura, 2008). FOURTH SESSION
  • 130. Johnston (1995) identified low self-esteem as one of the most common char- acteristics of children with incarcerated parents. Low self- esteem, in turn, adversely affects children’s ability to respond to future traumatic events. Therefore, the fourth session focuses on building self-esteem as well as identifying strengths. To accomplish these tasks, the facilitator has members draw a self-portrait and encourages them to name positive personal charac- teristics (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). This activity encourages members to build a positive self-image, confidence, and personal strength. Geller et al. (2009) emphasized the need for facilitators to encourage personal creativity for chil- dren of incarcerated parents. To fulfill this creative requirement, members in Children of Incarcerated Parents 409 this group participate in an experiential activity where they create (i.e., draw) their own tree of personal strength and growth, a symbolic representation of their self-portrait (Bender, 2003). As suggested by Bender (2003), the facilitator provides group members with materials such as construction paper, markers, crayons, or pencils. After
  • 131. receiving materials, each member draws a tree with roots and leaves large enough to fill the paper. Additionally, members place their name on their drawing, thus owning the work and making it theirs (Gladding, 2012). The roots symbolize personal strengths, and the facilitator instructs each member to write positive changes they have mastered or noticed in themselves. The leaves symbolize members’ current difficulties, including behaviors they are continuously working to improve. Once members finish decorating their tree, the facilitator instructs them to pass it around the room until it makes a full circle and reaches back to the original member. Through this process, members get to see the trees of their peers. As the drawings are passed around the circle, the facilitator tells mem- bers to write on the back of the paper one positive attribute of that member to whom the tree belongs. Each member has the opportunity to share their drawing, descriptors, and what others wrote about them to the rest of the group. In an effort to process unresolved feelings resulting from this activ- ity, the facilitator needs to pay close attention to each member’s reaction and behaviors. This experiential activity not only permits each member to be introspective, but also provides for a potential increase in overall self-efficacy
  • 132. (Bandura, 2008). According to Adalist-Estrin (2006), improvements in self- efficacy can occur in children of incarcerated parents when they become more aware of personal perceptions and feelings. Therefore, increasing indi- vidual insight is paramount as improved awareness leads to personal growth and better interpersonal relationships (Miller, 2006). Fifth and Sixth Sessions Sessions 5 and 6 focus on building trusting relationships, developing social skills and self-awareness, and building outside social support to lean on after the termination of the group. FIFTH SESSION The focus of Session 5 is trust issues in relationships and development of appropriate social skills. In anticipation of termination, the facilitator also emphasizes the need for social and relational support in participants’ per- sonal lives. An appropriate exercise the facilitator uses is an activity labeled A Good Friend (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). In this activity, members discuss and define what makes a good friend. Moreover, members create a fictional advertisement seeking a friend that meets their described qualities. The
  • 133. 410 A. Lopez and I. Burt activity ends with members role-playing and exemplifying the importance of the qualities their ideal friend has. Emphasizing positive qualities in oth- ers is imperative with this population, as many seek maladaptive groups, such as gangs, to fulfill their relational needs (Burt & Butler, 2011). It is with this increased sense of self-awareness and knowledge about what qualities individuals look for in others that social and relational skills grow. Encouraging a positive outlook for the future and instilling confidence in group members is essential, as worry and hopelessness often plague children of incarcerated parents (Adalist-Estrin, 2006). To circumvent hopelessness, the facilitator must be sure to deal with termination in a caring and sensi- tive manner (Corey, 2011). In this group, the facilitator has members create a vision board that assists in the termination process by providing inspira- tion and hope for the future (Springer et al., 2000). Construction paper and magazines aid the vision board activity. The facilitator instructs members to look through appropriate, provided magazines. As members cut out pictures, words, people, places, or things, they begin to envision their future. Here,
  • 134. members have the opportunity to create their vision boards any way they choose. This could be a future with or without their parent and may include the actions needed to prepare them for either scenario. Having members systemically consider how their actions directly affect their future is simi- lar to Bandura’s (2008) notion of intentionality. Using intentionality, people predict the likelihood that their behavior will have either a positive or a nega- tive impact on accomplishing their goals in the future. When members share their vision boards with one another, cohesion increases and the process of termination may be easier for members to accept (Gladding, 2012). SIXTH SESSION In the sixth and final session, the group terminates. The facilitator gives a pizza and ice-cream party for all members. This celebration symbolizes a culmination of the dedication the members have put forth and marks a new beginning. As recommended by Burt et al. (2012), the final session focuses on reviewing previous material, as well as identifying strengths and skills that have developed throughout time in the group. Additionally, using cognitive forethought (i.e., predicting how behavior can influence future decisions) is a major component during the final session. Maintaining a key
  • 135. focus on cogni- tive processes instead of emotional content, as Gladding (2012) mentioned, is vital when working with this population during termination. Therefore, asking members to identify available support within the community, family, and school is useful, as it helps with the transition of termination. The facilitator guides members in discussion of how they will approach people in their lives for support, including how they will phrase their request (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). Corey (2011) and Gladding (2012) both suggested that for termination to be impactful and significant, the final session should Children of Incarcerated Parents 411 include something creative that is inexpensive and tangible. For example, the facilitator has members create a drawing that symbolizes the progression made during the group. The drawing is a concrete item the members can take with them to keep once the group ends. Similarly, Burt et al. (2012) suggested using positive mementos to assist in goal-keeping once the group ends. Evaluations of this conceptual group entail members’ personal
  • 136. evalua- tions of their experience. Evaluations may determine how helpful they found the group and how well it assisted in the development of social and relational skills. Evaluations administered preintervention, midintervention, and postin- tervention are useful to determine efficacy of the group (McCarthy, 2012). Furthermore, the use of evaluations aids in determining where improvements can be made in group design and structure, as well as in group facilitation (Burt et al., 2012). With evaluation, the ability to pinpoint populations most in need of interventions can assist counselors in ensuring underserved popula- tions receive necessary services (Burt, 2013). Finally, an option for follow-up is an annual assessment of each member determining if they may benefit from additional services. DISCUSSION Due to a lack of literature and interventions for children of incarcerated parents, it is imperative to not underestimate the social and emotional insta- bility these children endure. Springer et al. (2000) determined that although there is “support in general for group work with children who have expe- rienced parental incarceration, there is no available outcome literature on the effectiveness of group intervention with this population” (p.
  • 137. 433). Thus, the purpose of this article is to bring attention to this population’s needs and concerns. It is the authors’ contention that researchers need to focus on developing and analyzing interventions for children of incarcerated par- ents. Practitioners, however, need to focus on using appropriate or effective interventions. Children spend many hours in school, and the environment itself pro- vides a developmental context for behavioral, academic, and socioemotional functioning. Therefore, Shillingford and Edwards (2008) suggested strate- gies that include the school and home as important frameworks to enhance the functioning of children of incarcerated parents. Additionally, collabora- tive planning between school and home has an added benefit of ensuring the promotion of effective resources to address social problems. Research indicates that children of incarcerated parents are an increasingly vulner- able population that is growing dramatically (Springer et al., 2000). Thus, counselors need to position themselves for early intervention and design appropriate support strategies for this underserved population. 412 A. Lopez and I. Burt
  • 138. Limitations Working with a group of children struggling with personal and familial hard- ships is a difficult task (Phillips & Gates, 2011). There are many additional challenges when implementing a 6-week group intervention. First, the lim- ited timeframe may hinder the array of possibilities for the group itself to evolve. Due to the extensive time children need to build trust, past studies emphasized the importance of extending group sessions for longer periods (e.g., 12 weeks). However, Lopez and Bhat (2007) believed this might be challenging because obtaining support for a long-term group from admin- istrators and teachers is difficult. An additional limitation is the selection of potential members coming from a list provided by school staff. First, having a list provided by school staff may not produce enough applicants to fill the group. Second, the criteria to be included on a list provided by school staff could potentially miss students who may be internalizing, as opposed to externalizing, their problems. Nevertheless, there are few interventions designed specifically for this population (Lopez & Bhat, 2007). As such, even with limitations, counseling groups may provide a creative interven- tion similar to what Roysircar (2009) indicated underserved
  • 139. populations need. FUTURE IMPLICATIONS Children share the devastation of a parent’s incarceration. Their reactions, however, may differ in various ways. Miller (2006) explained, due to research primarily emphasizing male participants, that there is still an unclear picture of gender differences. Males generally misbehave to acquire attention, while females can be withdrawn, shy, or have problems with communication if the father is the incarcerated parent (Davies et al., 2008). However, if the mother is the incarcerated parent, girls may display excessive anger and aggression. Since recent studies do not distinguish between male and female partici- pants, further research may be warranted in addressing each sex’s specific reactions to incarceration. Specific attention to the implications of negative social bonds, such as gangs, can address what Miller (2006) identified as a desire for a sense of belonging. With such variation within children of incarcerated parents, it is imperative that more researchers explore this population’s needs and con- cerns (Murray & Farrington, 2005). Therefore, future studies may examine if impact is dependent on sex of parent, type of crime committed, and
  • 140. length of parental sentence. While the focus of this article was aimed at underserved populations (i.e., low socioeconomic status), parental incarcer- ation affects all economic backgrounds. Understanding the effect of parental incarceration on a variety of economic backgrounds is an area that future researchers need to address. Another concern for future researchers is the Children of Incarcerated Parents 413 selection process. As mentioned previously, some children internalize rather than externalize their issues. Developing a recruitment, screening, and selec- tion model that identifies the most appropriate population is imperative for groups (Gladding, 2012). Additionally, further studies may wish to exam- ine the impact of parental incarceration based upon the child’s age, amount of contact maintained between child and parent, and expectations children receive from others regarding their parent’s absence. Lastly, longitudinal studies in the lives of children with incarcerated parents may help to clarify both short-term and long-term impacts on children. Through future interven- tions, counselors can develop and structure activities that positively influence children’s lives.
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  • 146. Pearson. Angelica Lopez is an In-Home On-Site Therapist at The Village South/WestCare, Miami, Florida. Isaac Burt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counselor Education, Leadership, and Professional Studies at Florida International University, Miami, Florida. Copyright of Journal of Creativity in Mental Health is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.