When words are proving insufficient for a child or young person to describe troubling matters, the CRRES Model of therapeutic assessment offers an alternative means through which EPs can facilitate a client's full participation. The model enables the discovery of an accessible and comfortable medium of communication, so that the client's voice can be heard.
The CRRES Model is:
Creative - in that it involves drawing diagrams and pictures, making things with craft materials, and creating scenes using miniature real-world objects.
Reciprocal – in the way that the EP and child venture into a process of shared discovery, clarification and understanding, the child being able to lead and teach as well as follow.
Responsive – involving the flexible selection of pertinent CRRES activities which rest at different points along key dimensions of therapeutic dialogue, according to the style of delivery and medium of communication the child feels comfortable to use.
Structured ---------- Unstructured
Literal -------------------- Symbolic
Directive ----------- Non-Directive
Verbal ------------------------- Visual
Where a child cannot respond to an initial structured verbal activity about real life issues presented in a directive style, a variety of less structured, less directive, more symbolic and visual tasks can be offered, until an accessible mode of expression is found.
Symbolic – when a child finds literal communication of challenging or painful thoughts and experiences too harsh, frightening or potentially overwhelming, symbolic images, miniatures and scenes are used for the situation to be set out and discussed more comfortably. Using facilitation techniques from humanistic art and play therapy, conversation about what has been made often remains within the symbolism, to discover more about the child’s thoughts and feelings. This can act as a springboard to being able to talk about real life matters.
The EP refrains from interpretation, using the Humanistic principle that honours the client as expert on themselves, and the only one who knows what meaning they assign to certain colours, shapes, characters and scenes.
In addition to yielding assessment information for reporting purposes, the activities can offer children a therapeutic experience, by providing
an accessible means of emotional expression;
enabling them to experience empathy and acceptance;
prompting enhanced self awareness and new insights into stuck or tangled understandings, and
eliciting the flexibility of thinking necessary for new ideas to be considered.
As an integrative psychological model, once feelings, thoughts and assumptions have been shared through the CRRES activities, the session can double as a brief therapeutic intervention, using person centred counselling, cognitive-behavioural and solution focussed elements to help the child clarify and embrace a new perspective and way forward.
The model is systemic, the session being undertaken with a clear expectation that the findings will be shared with others. The child's parents, carers and key school staff are influenced through increasing empathy, understanding and attitude shift... arguably the greatest foundation for system change to be built upon.