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Build a holistic picture of the child

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This page was updated on 26 July 2021. To view changes, please see page updates

Build a holistic picture of what is happening for a child to inform how to best support them. Think about all areas of their lives, including family, school, friendships, and social activities.

Listen carefully to what the child says about their life. Speak to family members and professionals to understand their concerns. This will also help to understand if a child is behaving differently depending on the context. Be curious about any differences.

For example, ‘Kara appears happy and relaxed at home but is withdrawn and isolated at school.’

Consider:

  • What is different about home and school and what does Kara say about this?
  • What needs to be done to find out what is happening for Kara at school?
  • How does she feel about her friends and peers?
  • Is she worried about her academic performance?
  • What is happening for Kara at home?
  • Is something making it hard for her to focus at school?

Use supervision to explore grey areas

Supervision can be a useful way to:

  • explore what is already known about a child
  • explore what is not known about the child
  • explore what the grey areas are
  • talk about what’s working and not working
  • share risk and make sure there is integrity in decision making
  • step back from day-to-day casework and walk in the child’s shoes.

Develop clear questions to help think about a child’s experience and best plan an approach.

Examples of clear questions are:

  • How can I best connect with the child to understand their lived experiences of their mental health issue?
  • What information does the child need to know about their mental health issue? How can I best do this?
  • How can I help this child feel supported and stay connected when their mental health issue creates barriers or challenges in their life?

Note

The strange reality of life with severe OCD is a Richard Fiedler interview with Lily Bailey, who talks about what it was like for her to experience Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a young person. Learn from Lily about how children and young people may try to hide their thoughts and behaviours from others, and how being helped to understand an illness can support recovery.

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