NUMBER 365• 26 SEPTEMBER 2003 • RECORDING
INDEX OF QUOTESReferences
Probably no other profession has subjected its words and deeds to such a critical appraisal as has the mental health profession. For example, in the area of residential treatment for emotionally disturbed children, we not only subject our child-care workers to the rigors of an eight-hour shift with hyperaggressive, impulse-ridden children, but then expect them to write about it afterward! The essential “reason” for this compilation of detailed material is, of course, communication. In a good therapeutic residence this may mean something as mundane as “who fought with whom at recess,” or something as esoteric as an analysis of some intrapsychic process. There are long- as well as short-range reasons for recording; for example, the combined efforts of many people in two or three years of residential treatment must in some way be communicated to the “significant others” in a child’s life: teacher, parents, caseworkers, etc.
Basically, there are three different goals served by good recording: information, evaluation of progress, and research. Some types of recording (e.g., diagnostic outline) are designed specifically to answer the question, “What kind of a child is this?” One of the ways the treatment plan for a child is modified is through a careful analysis of his behavior and therapeutic progress over a period of time. Thus, the skilled clinician might wish to look at a child’s performance over a great many bedtimes to see if his nighttime fears have increased, decreased or remained about the same. Similarly, an analysis of the cohesiveness of the group, as well as its ability to solve problems gives us some clues as to the developmental levels of the individual children. Finally, if the long and arduous task of the child-care worker is to have any transfer value to the “outside world,” daily recordings must be scrutinized in such a way that successful behavior management techniques and clinical exploitation skills are codified, written down, and passed on to other people who will be working with the child when residential treatment is terminated. One need only look to Redl and Wineman’s classic, The Aggressive Child (1957), to see the tremendous importance of the carefully recorded and analyzed therapeutic contact.
It is the purpose of this chapter to explain in detail the four different forms of recording: critical incident recording, individual recording, group recording, and behavior rating scales. Careful attention will be paid to the question, “What should be recorded?” as well as to how the material should be organized. A final section will be devoted to exploring some pitfalls to accurate recording.
Whittaker, J. (1969). Observing and recording children's behavior. In Albert Trieschman; James Whittaker and Larry Brendtro (Eds.) The Other 23 Hours. New York: Aldine De Gruyter pp 198-199
Redl, Fritz & Wineman, David (1957). The aggressive child. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press