Unit 7.2 discussion: the impact of maltreatment on behavior


Unit 7.2 Discussion: The Impact of Maltreatment on Behavior

You are now working as a therapist in a mental health clinic. A mother, Michelle, comes to you concerned about her 12 year-old son named James.  She describes James as being aggressive towards her which includes screaming in her face, throwing objects when he is upset and on two occasions, he pushed her down to the ground.  While you are conducting the intake, Michelle tells you that she left James’ father, Michael, after years of domestic violence which resulted in his arrests and current incarceration.  When you inquire about what behaviors James may have witnessed between his parents, Michelle is clear that James viewed many occasions when his Father punched her, blocked her from leaving the house and at one point, James intervened in the abuse resulting in him receiving a black eye from his Father.  Despite these examples, Michelle articulates to you that she does not understand from where James has learned these aggressive behaviors and would like assistance and support to intervene with him “before he becomes just like his father.”  How do you explain to Michelle the impact of Michael’s behaviors on James?  What further questions would you like to ask Michelle?  What techniques would you utilize to engage James?

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