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  • Healing from Trauma

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    Defining Trauma

    When most people think of “trauma” they think of things like physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and abandonment, or car accidents, dog bites, and house fires. While these and more are regarded and accepted as “traumatic events,” we have to look at the definition of trauma in a broader sense. 

    Trauma is any experience that overwhelms our ability to cope and regulate our emotions. Does this mean the child that watched a scary movie at a friend’s house that now comes into their parents’ bedroom 10 times a night crying has experienced a traumatic event, even though none of the other kids that watched the movie seem to be having trouble sleeping? Yes. And the teen that was teased by a peer at school that now has a migraine or a stomachache every school morning, have they experienced a traumatic event as well, even though their friends were teased by the same peer and seem unfazed? Yes. What is considered traumatic for one person or child may not be traumatic for another.

    Often, post-traumatic symptoms resolve of their own, once the crisis has passed and the individual has returned to a sense of safety and security, but when that doesn’t happen, and symptoms persist and interfere with an individual’s ability to live their life to the fullest extent, we are here to help. 

    Signs and Symptoms

    Common signs and symptoms of a traumatic experience are:

    • Sleep disturbances
    • Changes in eating habits
    • Physical complaints, such as headache or stomach pain
    • Developmental regression
    • Self-isolation
    • Anxious, clingy 
    • Fearful, easily startled
    • Disruptions in relationships, friendships 
    • Sadness
    • Irritability
    • Aggression 
    • Sexualized behavior
    • Repetitive post-traumatic play
    • Inattention or difficulty concentrating 
    • Daydreaming and dissociation 
    • Difficulty identifying what is bothering them
    • Restlessness, impulsivity, hyperactivity 

    These signs and symptoms are exacerbated by prolonged exposure to multiple traumatic events, or complex trauma. 

    Our Approach

    Our approach begins with providing children and teens with the resourcing required to empower them with the courage to address the traumatic events in their lives. We do this while working with parents and caregivers to bolster protective factors, such as developing or deepening secure attachment and creating a sense of felt-safety, which mitigate post-traumatic symptoms and expedite the healing process. The time it takes to process trauma is completely unique to each individual and their circumstances, but by using the most evidenced-based, highly-regarded therapeutic modalities (EMDR, AEDP) and combining those with modalities that we know promote grounding, expression, and expansion of the window of tolerance (Play Therapy, Sand Tray Therapy), we can bring hope and relief to kids, teens, and their families as speedily as possible.