Treating Trauma in Children

Trauma’s victims are often among the most vulnerable in society . . . . . . especially when they include children. When trauma occurs at a young age, children can face biological effects that change the way their brains are developing. This includes parts of the brain that are critical for processing emotions like trust, affect regulation, impulse control, and identity (amongst other things). So as caregivers, we look for ways we can help kids feel safe so that they can learn to regulate their emotions and begin to heal. One promising intervention might be group therapy for kids sharing…

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Trauma’s Impact on the Brain

When a traumatic event triggers our internal alarm system, the body goes into fight, flight, or freeze . . . . . . but what happens in the brain during trauma? According to Dan Siegel, MD, there are two key chemical reactions to trauma (and one can play a role in actually shrinking part of the brain). Check out the video clip (below) for more – it’s just 4 minutes. Click here to sign up Knowing how trauma affects the brain can enhance our interventions for helping patients heal from a traumatic experience. If you want to learn more about…

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Rethinking Trauma: The Third Wave of Trauma Treatment

As someone who’s been practicing for a while, I’ve seen our view on the treatment of trauma go through substantial development. Our research, theory and treatments have all advanced considerably in the last 40 years. And as I reflect upon this, I’m seeing 3 waves in the evolution of our outlook. Looking back at when I first began to practice (in the late 70’s) our understanding of trauma was really quite limited. Of course we recognized the fight / flight response ever since Hans Selye introduced the notion back in the 50’s. But our prevailing treatment option was talk therapy….

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PTSD, the Brain, and Pain

A single traumatic experience can set off many different levels of pain, whether emotional or physical, acute or chronic. But can PTSD affect how the brain processes pain? Marla Mickleborough, MA, of the University of British Columbia and Judith Daniels, PhD, of the University of Western Ontario, wanted to find out whether the brain might actually mitigate pain in the presence of trauma. They gathered an experimental group of patients with PTSD and a control group of people who had experienced trauma but had never developed PTSD. Researchers placed the subjects in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner while…

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Fear and Shame: Loosening Trauma’s Grip

Often a trauma patient’s body seems to tell them, “There’s something wrong with me. Everything is my fault. I’m so ashamed.” It’s challenging, helping patients learn how to quiet the messages their bodies are sending them so they can self-regulate and heal. And for some clients, just hearing the word body can activate a fear response. So is there a way we can help patients begin to make peace with their bodies when they feel so vulnerable? According to Pat Ogden, PhD, it begins by helping them experience the body as a resource to aid their healing. Pat illustrates one…

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Helping Trauma Survivors Shed Feelings of Shame

For trauma survivors, one of the most insidious roadblocks to healing is often the debilitating feeling of shame that can linger after a traumatic experience. So how can practitioners help clients begin to reclaim a sense of self-worth? Kerstin Jung, PhD and Regina Steil, PsyD, at Goethe University Frankfurt, in Frankfurt, Germany, wanted to find out whether Cognitive Restructuring and Imagery Modification (CRIM) could empower adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to move beyond feelings of shame associated with trauma. CRIM is designed to help patients do two things: change the way they see themselves (Cognitive Restructuring), and change the…

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