One can find much valuable information about mental health and related issues over the internet especially if the website is an official psychiatry and psychology page of the American Psychological Association. It is their mission to create, communicate, and apply knowledge about psychological issues for the benefit of everyone needing information. For this particular blog, we want to disseminate valid sources and materials on how to assist children who have been through a traumatic event.
All the tips and ideas herein are inspired by the Trauma and Children article of the American Psychological Association website. Hopefully, it can reach some followers and readers, and equip them with ways to support and help a friend or loved one who was traumatized. Because as Cynthia Ridgway, MA, LMHC, NCC, DCC explains, “Kids with trauma (and the more trauma, the more true this is) are very vulnerable when they are disciplined, so you want to discipline very carefully. Try to be as gentle as you can while still holding reasonable and safe guidelines.”
Tidbits On Trauma In Children In The United States
- About fifty percent of children in the United States suffer at least one traumatic event in their life brought about by physical and emotional abuse, violence at home, in school, the community, and worse, from war, terrorism, natural and human-made tragedies, and death of a friend or loved one.
- Others may experience one traumatic event while during their childhood, but some children are suffering trauma over and over again on a regular basis. “We know many of the risk factors from poverty, trauma, maltreatment and social isolation through to bullying and the impact of excessive testing and unrealistic academic pressures,” explains Katie Hunt, Clinical Psychologist.
- Some children are victims of chronic trauma and with such events happening to them regularly, they barely have the proper time (or treatment) to heal and recover.
Children Experience Distress After A Traumatic Event
- A child in distress can go back to his or her usual self after a period of healing and recovery with the help and support of the child’s family and friends. And according to Dr. R. Y. Langham, Ph.D. “When a child’s social and emotional issues and psychological distress are left untreated, it can negatively impact his/her educational aspirations and developmental milestones.”
- Some children may not recover as quickly as others, and these type of kids need the assistance of mental health professionals. The distress in them may escalate over time if the traumatized children are left untreated.
- A child’s reaction to a traumatic experience varies, and it has a lot to do with his or her maturity, age, and exposure to constant trauma.
- Kids who always face chronic trauma are more prone to its effects, subsequently.
Mental Health Professionals Help Traumatized Children
- Counselors and therapists who are certified to handle traumatized children will have to identify and assess the trauma-exposed child. After that, the professional will have to make a program that is culturally amenable for the child to start healing and recovering.
- The children who are traumatized, as well as their families, must have appropriate followup actions from the professionals. It may also include intervention programs with the purpose of helping the families connect with each other during this challenging time.
- Those with specialized training can also assist during emergency situations.
- Mental health professionals with specialization in trauma counseling can also assist children in schools, hospitals, and community-based organizations.
- One must be equipped to handle children that are culturally diverse and with developmental issues.
Responding To Traumatized Children And Their Families
- The certified mental health professional must educate the child and his or her family about how recovery from trauma is going to happen. They must have an idea of what to expect from the treatment with a hope that the child, their loved one, will heal in time with proper guidance and support.
- There are phases in recovering from trauma which the child will have to undergo. The mental health professional must assist the child on that and also impart to their families and loved ones that if at times the phases will induce a violent reaction on the child, it is part of healing.
- These children have different cultural background, religious beliefs and such. The counselor must recognize that and cater the program according to the child’s need, concerning his family.
As a counselor, you are also just a human being. Take care of yourself and if you’re feeling stressed or getting to that burned-out stage, take a break. You can only help others if you are in tiptop shape.
If you’re not a counselor but a family member or a friend whose loved one is traumatized, then equip yourself with techniques on how to help your child, sibling, relative or friend. You may not be a licensed professional, but you know your loved one better than anyone else. Your support is invaluable and priceless.