Master of Social Work
School for Social Work
The purpose of this investigation has been to followup predictions made in an earlier Intake Study about the treatability of a group of youngsters admitted to tne Hawthorne- Cedar Knolls School. Tne broader purpose was to isolate meaningful criteria that might prove useful in the selection of those children who could benefit from residential treatment. In 19f>2, Rena Schulman and Lean Levinger studied the one hundred and two children admitted to the Hawthorne-Cedar Knolls School over a one-year period, The purpose of the index study was to describe the intake population, for a comparison of the stated intake policy with the intake in practice; and as a basis for predicting these children's adjustment to the three aspects of institutional life; treatment, management, and programming. The authors rated the children along a three-point Doubt Scale. The thirty-nine youngsters included in this follow-up study were selected from the two extreme-rating groups (Little Doubt and Great Doubt). Since the institution is divided into three operational units, the distribution of cases included 10 junior boys, 16 senior boys, and 13 girls. The method of the study was to compare the predictions made at the time of intake, with the therapists’ judgments of treat-ability, after an extended period of treatment with the children.
The agreement between the predictions and therapists judgments proved to be little better than chance, with the inference that probably neither the predictions or the therapists’ judgments had too much validity. This appeared to be a matter of semantics, since the findings showed that actually 74% of the children accepted were helped, though both the intake Committee and therapists were hesitant about equating "helped by the placement" with "treated". The difficulty seemed to lie in two directions, an inability to pin down the basis of the intangible of “clinical intuition"; and the yet unbridged gap between clinicians’ conception of psychotherapy and what is known about the dynamics of residential treatment and therapy with adolescents.
An analysis of the case material obtained from the interviews with the therapists revealed a number of seemingly significant criteria, in terms of the selection of children able to benefit from this form of treatment. An important consideration was the child’s ability to relate sufficiently for a minimal acceptance by the other children in the institution, and to enable him to utilize the activities and relationships from which the therapeutic benefit derives in a residential treatment setting. It was demonstrated that children needed to feel some desire for help. Children had to have a certain level of ego strength in order to tolerate the pressures in this type of setting, and to experience them as positive motivation. Parental interference and families* potential for support are important to evaluate. In reviewing why cases failed, it was found that the more significant, prognostic factors were duration and severity of pathology, the nature and diffusion of the symptomatology, history of early removal from the home, response to previous treatment and placements, etc.
© 1956 Dorothy Houck
Houck, Dorothy, "Children Sentenced to Treatment" (1956). Dissertation, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
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