Second Training: Psychological Assistance to Children Victims of Trafficking
A number of difficult issues are involved in looking at assistance for children victims of trafficking. Areas that need to be developed further exist side by side with areas where knowledge and expertise is already in place. How does exploitation affect the young person? Overall, the knowledge on how children are affected psychologically by exploitation is limited. Some experience exists but this is built on few cases and the knowledge has not been systematically organised nor is it in a form that can be communicated. The lack of knowledge in this field must not lead into denying young persons access to the best possible psychological care. The four C?s: Compliance, Control, Closure and Compensation seem to be important parts of any comprehensive psychotherapeutic treatment process that should be offered young persons that have been exploited.
The motivation for healing and how to build a contract for healing and for change with the young person is important in this. Each care worker must encourage and build in the young person skills to communicate and skills to protect yourself. The experience is that children that have been involved in trafficking usually have no decision-making skills or social skills at all and they usually have a long and traumatic history. What can the professional then hope to heal? Is it possible to manage and reprocess old traumas, like childhood sexual abuse? Is it feasible to heal family traumas, old wounds in the family of origin that in some sense is awakened in the young person and sometimes acted out in the exploitation process? Proper and thorough assessment of the child is vital. Each case would need careful assessment in order to be properly cared for. As we are mostly dealing with teenagers one positive aspect could be to elaborate with them their own participation in defining the healing context. Comprehensive assessments need to be made, both of the child of the family and of the history of the young person. The comprehensive assessment procedure that needs to be in place should be guided by a manual, assisting the professional in suggesting the kind of assessments that may be called for. The psychologists need to be well acquainted with how to develop contact in a setting that would enable the child to feel more at ease.
Experiences from projects assisting young persons involved in prostitution are that the contact phase as the care worker attempts at finding a proper space in which to interact with the young person usually means meetings in cafés or hamburger places in order to allow the young person to better define the proper space than is possible to do in a more clinic like setting. The training in this needs to incorporate also how psychologists and social workers may cooperate in the work assisting children and another part of the training need to deal with the first contact between the authorities and the trafficked child. Often the police is the first point of contact for the child so contact building with the police is vital. Police regularly complains about the fact that it is so difficult to get in contact with social workers in the acute phase when assistance and secure housing is desperately needed. Authorities need to respect the work flow of other involved professionals and define the process enabling them to cooperate. Psychological support, in the case of assisting children and young persons victims of trafficking means psychologists participating in the first contact with acute assistance and the psychologist also being part of the deliberations of protective care for the affected child. Finally, in these cases the fact that counselling is given in the host country, needs to be conveyed to the care workers continuing to work to assist the child in the home country.