Lauren Utter and Tessa Kramer here again updating you on some of our recent experiences in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Last week we informed you of the sites in which we would be providing clinical work as student volunteers. So far, we have had the opportunity to spend four days at Fundación Crecer. In these four days, we have seen the profound impact this school has on the children of Guayaquil. Fundación Crecer not only provides an academic outlet for child street vendors, but the foundation also offers a nurturing and accepting environment. Fundación Crecer strives to meet the basic, as well as the emotional needs of children and families.
This past week, we arrived at the foundation at 8:30 am each morning. We were greeted by the psychologist, and soon after began work with patients. Out of the 120 students that attend Fundación Crecer, the psychologist had identified 10-15 of the most at-risk cases for us to work with. From behind the two-way-mirror, four of us eagerly watched and made observations as our colleagues interacted with the patients.
Depending on the patient, we either administered a projective assessment, or implemented different therapeutic techniques. We administered both the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and the Children’s Apperception Test (CAT) to various children. In contrast to many of the responses we have received from patients in the United States, these children’s responses reflected their stark, harsh, and impoverished world. It was clear that their current psychological states are detrimentally impacted by their living situations, family interactions, and societal injustices.
Some of the greatest learning experiences took place following the patient sessions, when the seven of us sat with the psychologist and discussed the cases. We were able to share our observations from both behind the mirror and from sitting with the patients. We spent a great deal of time formulating the cases and making future recommendations. We hope to implement some of our recommendations in the upcoming weeks.
Although we are striving to provide comprehensive services, we are limited by time and the lack of resources within the society. However, it is clear that we are making an impact on many of the children whom we are seeing. This was demonstrated by one thirteen-year-old female patient who has interpersonal difficulties and has been resistant to therapy in the past. As our session came to a close, her sole inquiry was when she would get to see us next.
Tessa Kramer and Lauren Utter