It is well known that children and young people who have suffered prolonged or multiple adverse experiences can find it impossible to articulate a description of the emotional challenges they are facing, despite our using excellent counselling skills, and regardless of their intellect, age or language fluency. Their troubles can feel beyond expression and out of our reach.
Neurological research has found that memories associated with intense emotion are stored differently from everyday experience, strongly linked with the basic stress response system. Since they feel potentially overwhelming to recall, they are kept back and lie without being thought about, spoken about, shared or reflected upon, whilst keeping the body in a stressed state.
The memory and its linked assumptions and emotionality impact on the child's day to day behaviour and relationships in concerning ways which prove resistant to change.
Checklists, observation, school behavioural data and accounts by parents and key staff all offer crucial information, yet direct insights from the child’s perspective are an essential element in assessment, intervention planning and in enabling children to have help processing the experience differently, thereby unleashing it and them from the linked stress response.
The CRRES model of therapeutic assessment offers a means of helping children, young people and adults find a medium of communication that feels safe, such that elements of the traumatic experience can be shared whilst remaining comfortable, calm and contained. This trauma-informed approach is a fusion of key processes and activities from humanistic creative arts therapy, with the rigour, efficiency and systemic change principles central to EP practice.
A single CRRES assessment session can yield a detailed expression of the child’s emotional world; therapeutic change for the child; and a moving communication that has the power to elicit significant shifts in attitude, understanding and commitment to assist, amongst key adults in the child’s support network.
The approach is for use by busy EPs in their usual working contexts, including statutory assessment and offers an important feature for the EP service portfolio.