Many people have contributed in helping to solve the problem of child abuse and neglect. This is because this is a problem that is of great concern in the society. This is a social problem that needs to be solved to reduce the pains that the children who are neglected and abused go through. One of the people who have worked hard in trying to solve and control this problem is Dr. Eliana Gil. She is a well known international expert on child abuse and neglect. She is an author, teacher, lecturer, family therapist and a guest in many of television shows talking about the issue of child abuse and neglect. She founded the abused children’s treatment services in Fairfax Virginia. This is where she conducts her clinical practice. She is also the director of starbright training institute for child and family play therapy (Gil, 1994).
She was born in Ecuador and lived there until the time she was fourteen years when she went to Washington DC with her mother where she made a permanent relocation. She developed consistent children in taking care of the abused and neglected children since she was young. She stated this when she forged a relationship with a young girl who was a servant in Ecuador. Due to the experience she had with this girl, this enhanced her interest in the plight of neglected and abused children. She has worked in this area of child abuse prevention since the year 1973. She had prepared herself to be a secretary when she was in high school. However, she worked as a psychiatry department in Georgetown university hospital as her first job. It is when she was working in this hospital when she developed full interest in psychology. She gives a lot of gratitude to Dr. Tom Stern who encouraged her to undertake training as a profession in mental health (Gil, 2006).
She started working as a young therapist with children and their families. She mostly worked with those clients who were referred to her by the court. Most of the clients she received had one common characteristic of avoiding communicating verbally (Gil, 2006). Because of this, she had to learn fast on other means of communicating. This would help her in making contact with clients who had the feelings of anger, distrust and those who felt afraid. This is important especially when dealing with those children who are unable or who are unwilling to talk in therapy. Due to the various experiences that she learnt from the clients, this led her to pursue further study. This has helped her be in a position to integrate theories and applications, which are useful to families.
In her work, she employs art, play, sand and other therapeutic approaches that are expressive. (Gil, 1991). The use of the many approaches in dealing with her clients in therapies helps her understand the complex and rigid defenses that the clients hold. This also helps her to understand the unique ways in which adult, children experience, and in the way that they try to understand how they try to help themselves. She helps the children and adults to find meaning of their stressful experiences (Rosenbloom & Watkins, 1999). She has been involved in conducting research findings and best practices that are helpful in helping clients. She does not only apply only one way in her therapies. She integrates state of art therapy approaches that are anchored in good research. She has dedicated her life with children who are traumatized. She walks together with the traumatized children in their healing process. Many clients who have gone through her therapy have shown a lot of trust in her in the way she conducts her healing therapies. She offers assistance in her work through writing, developing programs, through consultation and by conducting reaserch.She finds it rewarding to provide the clients with assistance through the therapies and other ways that he provides assistance. In her work, she has helped many families through range of approaches that she uses which help the clients to establish trust with her. The trust gives her the opportunity to decode their communication, which is usually broad. She also understands that children and teens who are under distress find it difficult to express their painful experiences openly through verbal communication. That is why she employs other means if communicating with her clients. That is why she pursued studies about expressive therapies for example play and art therapy. This has helped her be able to integrate other theories in her therapies (Sori & Hecker, 2003).
She offers family therapies where she assists family members to deal with psychological problems, which may arise out of social, economical and other hardships. She also helps them how to handle stress that accompanies their psychological problems (Sori & Hecker, 2003). She has also written books and articles, which have important information on how to help children who are traumatized. For example, “Helping Abused and traumatized children: Integrating Directive and Nondirective Approaches.” The books also contain strategies that should be applied in family therapies in various situations. The books are used in various institutions in mental health education. Her approaches have also been adapted by various counselors when undertaking their therapies.
Gil, E. (1994) Play in family therapy, New York, Guilford Press.
Gil, E. (2006) Helping abused and traumatized children: integrating directive and nondirective approaches, 1st edition, New York, Guilford Press, 2006
Gil, E. (1991) The healing power of play: working with abused children, New York, Guilford Press, 1991
Rosenbloom, D. & Watkins, B. (1999) Life after trauma: a workbook for healing, New York, Guilford Press.
Sori, C. & Hecker, L. (2003) The therapist’s notebook for children and adolescents: homework, handouts, and activities for use in psychotherapy, Routledge.