IPT Book Reviews

Title: Sexual, Physical, Emotional Abuse in Out-of-Home Care
Author: Toni C. Johnson
Publisher: The Haworth Press, ©1997

Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press
10 Alice Street
Binghamton, NY 13904-1580
(800) 342-9678
$39.95 (c); $17.95 (p)

The number of United States children placed in out-of-home care is increasing. In spite of the higher cost of out-of-home care, courts and protective services are putting more children in foster homes, residences, and with relatives. One of the oft-heard complaints from foster parents, residential staff, and relatives who take children is that they are given little instruction, guidance, or assistance in providing a positive environment and competent care for the children.

This short (118 pages), practical, how-to-do-it book is intended to aid adults who are responsible for children in out-of-home placements. Many children placed in out-of-home settings have been abused or neglected and may be both vulnerable to abuse by others, and themselves engage in abusive acts. The book is intended primarily for groups but could readily be adapted to an individual or two in a smaller setting. It provides a planned curriculum of about 20 weeks to improve the communication skills of the children, give them information about abuse, and to assist them in identifying and avoiding abusive situations. Each lesson plan has a stated objective, instructions for visual aids, suggestions for dialogue, and suggested activities.

The method includes considerable emphasis on discussion and revelation of feelings, which, while not clearly shown to have efficacy and therapeutic beneŞt, are frequently-used therapeutic techniques. A reader could easily include role plays and behavioral rehearsals to maximize the learning experience.

The most useful part of the curriculum may well be Appendix A. This is a series of questions to discuss or consider that are intended to allow for a differentiation between normal exploratory sexual play and sexual abuse. Not all the questions are helpful, but it is a good thing to become aware of the necessary distinction between a developmental process children must experience and exploitive, abusive sexual interactions. The book ends with a very short list of references and a brief index.

Professionals who make dispositional decisions or who are related to out-of-home care for children could benefit from reading and following the curriculum of this book with children in placements.

Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies, Northfield, Minnesota.

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