Non-Directive Therapy for Children

Main principle : Loving means letting be free, i. e. allowing self-directivity.

"Each child deserves freedom and dignity as a human being" (G. A. Rekers).

"Change in behavior if it is to have any lasting value must come from within the individual" (V. Axline) and not from outside pressure to "behave properly".

"The ultimate sign of an efficient therapist is the ability to help clients reach the stage of autonomy, where they no longer need a therapist" (Corey, Corey & Callanan).

Non-directivity "promotes self-determination, the freedom of clients to choose
their own direction" (Kitchener), this to restore their personhood as a self-determined being, and recovering children make more and more personal decisions as times goes by, as their mental health improves and as they come closer to adulthood which is defined as being independent.

"Non-directive therapy" is the process from the therapist' s point of view. "Self-directive therapy" is the process from the patient' s point of view.

Classical psychoanalysis belongs to non-directivity as the psychoanalyst may call the patient' s attention on some points or make some remarks, but the process is all the way led by the patient thru ces free associations of ideas.

The persons working on this project want to relate to others in non-directive ways including with children because they believe it is the best attitude to promote a democratic spirit and provide everyone with a happy life, in particular when someone is suffering from emotional disturbances it is the best
way to help the person heal.

We also believe that every human being whatever ces age is motioned by a natural inner drive that calls ce to establish ces selfhood and to reach the best mental health possible in ces environment and times.

We do not believe that we know better than a child for what regards ceself. Therefore we do not allow ourselves to interfere with what a child wants or does not want, except in case of emergency or if the child is evidently harming ceself or others.

Life at this project is conceived to "allow relationships between involved persons flourish in a natural way, unencumbered by overly technical or structured treatment methods" (Family Network Program of the Lee Mental Health Center, Florida). For that purpose most of activities and contacts are informal and casual. Further, this free style tends to facilitate the emergence of unresolved personal issues, which is essential to the therapeutic process.

Thus no pressure is made on children to conform to particular uses or rules except the ones herein described.

Nevertheless, for the team on this project being non-directive does not mean being passive and having nothing to do : assisting the children is an active task where we need to know when to be supportive and when to leave the children alone.

Non-directivity does not mean absence of structure : at the therapeutic milieu life and activities are structured by

- the physical and emotional needs of each person, little or big, with ces own personal biological rhythm and ces preferred orientations

- the seasonal tasks that need to be performed at a specific time of the year:
cutting wood fuel at spring to allow it to dry up during summer, planting the vegetable garden at spring, maintaining the place and sweeping the chimneys,
cutting grass around in summer, snow shoveling in winter, maintaining the car(s)...

- the personal progresses of each child, followed and noted in daily log

- the everyday, weekly and monthly tasks : go for errands, meetings, therapy
sessions for children who want them on a regular basis, periodical reports to the parents, bookkeeping to keep a good watch on expenses, week-ends more leisurely...

Generally children are a big contribution to the structure of the place as we try to adapt to their needs as best as possible.

Summary of therapy for recovery : features needed :

Empowerment : children must be in charge of their healing in every way to counteract the effects of abuse where all control was taken away from them.

Validation : children need others to listen to them to validate the importance of what happened to them to bear witness and to understand the consequences of the abuse in their life.

Connection : abuse makes children feel very alone. As part of their healing, they need help to reconnect with others.

rev. 2015