Title page for ETD etd-08182004-090705

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Mengel, Nadia
URN etd-08182004-090705
Document Title A Social Work assessment of the emotional needs of HIV/AIDS orphans
Degree MA (Play Therapy)
Department Social Work
Advisor Name Title
Dr C E Prinsloo
  • assessment
  • middle childhood
  • HIV/AIDS orphans
  • play therapy
  • Gestalt play therapy
  • emotional needs
  • Gestalt play therapy techniques
  • developmental tasks
  • affected significant others
Date 2003-10-09
Availability unrestricted
HIV/AIDS has assumed epidemic proportions in the world of today. The main age group infected by this disease is between the ages of 20 – 40 years. The result of this is that the children who are not infected by the disease will be orphaned and forced to assume the role of head of the house and breadwinner, at a stage in their lives when they should not be burdened with these responsibilities.

Orphans are perhaps the most tragic long-term legacy of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The stigma attached to HIV/AIDS exacerbates the trauma, hampers the bereavement process and exposes children to discrimination and victimization in their community and their extended family.

Investigation into existing literature has revealed that insufficient previous studies have been conducted on HIV/AIDS orphans and even fewer pertaining to the emotional needs of the HIV/AIDS infected population in the South African context. For the purpose of this study it was decided to assess the emotional needs of HIV/AIDS affected orphans in the developmental stage of middle childhood.

A literature investigation into the historical background of HIV/AIDS was done and the demographic impact of the disease on South Africa was given. The impact that HIV/AIDS has on the patient was discussed along with the impact that it has on the affected significant others of the patient.

Secondly a literature investigation on middle childhood was done. The child in middle childhood as well as the family with children in middle childhood was discussed. Attention was given to the developmental tasks, developmental characteristics and the child’s comprehension of death during middle childhood. Attention was also afforded to the family with children in middle childhood with specific emphasis on the developmental tasks and needs of the family and the developmental tasks of siblings.

The aim of the research study was to assess the emotional needs of HIV/AIDS orphans. An exploratory research design by means of a qualitative approach was followed. Five respondents were purposively sampled that complied with the set criteria. They were assessed through the utilization of six different Gestalt therapy techniques over a period of one week. Themes were identified through the empirical study.

The research question “What are the emotional needs of HIV/AIDS orphans?” was answered and the following emotional needs of the respondents were identified:

· Longing for the deceased mother.

· Loneliness.

· Stigmatization.

· Preoccupation with the physical features of the deceased.

· Anger.

· Insecurity.

· Preoccupation with death.

· Fear of death.

The following themes can be considered for further research in this field:

· Establishment of a therapeutic program for affected children.

· A comparison between the emotional needs of those children who have knowledge regarding their parent/s status and those who do not.

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