Finding the meaning in communication: setting the scene for work with children, young people and their parents ± how the child `speaks' the family
This ®rst chapter provides an introductory conceptual framework for carrying out assessment and therapeutic communication with children, parents and families. This work with children, parents and families should not be perceived as con®ned solely to clinical settings, but can take place in schools, social and community settings, hospitals, GP surgeries, health visiting, kindergartens, nurseries, child-care centres, residential centres and parent support services, as well as in many other places. The aim of this ®rst chapter is to demonstrate that, in order to work effectively with children, parents and families, whatever the setting, it is essential to combine two key elements in our work; ®rst, to recognize the meaning of child and adolescent behaviour within an individual, family and social context; and second, to advocate for the child within that family and social context. A therapeutic approach based on understanding the emotional and social world of the child, combined with child advocacy, is therefore perceived as not only inextricably linked but also essential to good practice.