Marcus came into residential after having been ejected from a previous residential. He is adopted, and his current adoption is actually his second as he was removed from his first home because of abuse. He is small for his age and a bit strange looking. In the month he has been here he has not made any friends, in fact the other kids seem to pick on him. Several times he has said inappropriate sexual things to female clients and to female staff, which does not increase his popularity. Generally he is the kid who is always doing what you just told him not to do, then accusing you of only talking to him when he does something wrong. Staff is finding it hard to engage with Marcus.
However recently a more upsetting issue has emerged. Tony and Jarell, two of the other boys, and Amber, one of the girls, separately came to staff to complain that Marcus has been showing them some very disturbing pictures that he drew. A search of his room in fact produced many of these pictures, which are very graphic (and skillfully drawn) renditions of men torturing naked women, complete with blood and gore. Amber said to her staff that she thinks Marcus is going to grow up to be a murderer and the staff who have seen the pictures tend to be worried about the same thing.
At first when this was discovered, staff gave Marcus a sketch book and said he could draw the pictures in there, but not show them to anyone. However yesterday his roommate Tim told staff that Marcus had been showing him his latest creation. It is one of the bloodiest yet. Lisa, Marcus’s therapist, finds that the pictures make her very uneasy and she does not know what to do to help Marcus. In fact lately she has been avoiding meeting with him. In the staff meeting the most popular suggestion is that Marcus be forbidden any access to paper and writing or drawing materials in an attempt to prevent him from making these drawings.
Do you think this is the best approach? Why or why not?
How do you understand Marcus’ behavior? In what way are these pictures adaptive for him- what positive results is he getting from drawing and sharing them?
What does Marcus need? What approach would you recommend?
What should be done to support Lisa and the staff in helping Marcus to heal?
Share your answers by clicking on "post a comment" below. I strongly encourage you to participate in this discussion. Let’s generate a robust list of possible answers. I will write more about this in my next post.