Assessing A Childs Spirituality
How do we assess how spirituality is nourished in a child’s life? I usually start with open ended questions that allow them to keep their language in here and now or take it to different dimensions. I always assess their ability, and where they are in the process of achieving that ability, to shift between perceptual positions in understanding the world around them through some of these questions.
What to be Prepared for When You Discuss Religious and Spiritual Beliefs
The assessment of religious/spiritual beliefs are very personal questions, and patients can be reluctant to reveal sensitive information when responding to these questions. This can be even more so, if the patient or family adheres to a religious tradition with a history of persecution. Although, we have found that many patients and families want their medical providers to understand the importance of these aspects of their lives, we must respect their right to privacy, go at a pace that is respectful, and building trust is key to receiving reliable information.
How Children Understand Their World
At a younger age, most children understand their world through what we call a first perceptual position, meaning how everything starts and ends with me. What are my needs? How are they met? How do other people around me meet my needs and understand me?
Ages 4-5 and Older
Older kids, 4-5 years and older, would be able understand other people’s needs and feelings, being able to put themselves in a second perceptual position: how would Dennis feel if I take his ball?
A preteen and a young adolescent (11-13 years old) would be able to shift to what is called a third perceptual position, when he can perceive how a third person, or an outside observer would ‘see’ an interaction between he/she and a peer. At this age, a sense of morality is usually developed. And some people would also consider a forth perceptual position, when the child wonders how his actions and the world he is involved with is seen from very high above, by God, how each of us understands Him.
Age Appropriate Development
Once we understand where the child is in his or her development compared to other kids of similar age, we can begin to assess the development of their spirituality which can help in the therapeutic process to be able to relate to the child at their level and to help them grow to an age appropriate level.
Read more about Why Is Spirituality important in Therapy?
If you know of a child who is in need of an assessment, or a family in need of support- feel free to refer them to us by calling Daniela White, M.D. Psychiatrist for Children in Houston at 713-426-3100.