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  • Trauma counseling can be a great way to help your child cope with difficult experiences. It can provide them with the tools they need to process their emotions and learn how to manage their reactions in a healthy way. Trauma counseling can also help your child develop better coping skills, build resilience, and create a more positive outlook on life.

    When looking for trauma counseling for your child, it is important to find a qualified professional who specializes in this type of therapy. It is also important to make sure that the therapist is someone your child feels comfortable with and can trust. When beginning trauma counseling, it is important to understand that the process may take some time. Your child may need to revisit difficult memories or experiences in order to work through them. It is also important to be patient and understanding as your child works through their emotions. It is also important to remember that trauma counseling is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each child will have different needs and may respond differently to the therapy. It is important to be open and honest with your child’s therapist so they can tailor the treatment plan to best meet your child’s individual needs.

    This article aims to provide parents with information about trauma’s effects and ways to help their child deal with these effects. Trauma in the life of a child, if untreated, can lead to severe problems later on.

    What is trauma?

    Trauma is any severe or life-threatening event that causes emotional distress in someone who has experienced it. It may involve actual injury or psychological harm. In either case, trauma can cause lasting changes in brain chemistry and behavior. Recovery from trauma is possible but requires time and support. 

    Children experience many different types of trauma, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, parental divorce, bullying, domestic violence, sexual abuse, natural disasters, human trafficking, war, terrorism, and even death. These trauma experiences affect children differently depending on age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, culture, and disability.

    With the right support system, your child can recover from trauma. Though the road to recovery can be challenging, there are ways to help your child heal. It takes time and patience. Parents play a critical role in helping their children cope with trauma. Research shows that parents who provide emotional support and help their children develop coping skills can reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, research suggests that parents who encourage their children to talk about what happened can also decrease the likelihood of developing unhealthy coping strategies.

    What are the effects of trauma?

    Traumatic events affect everyone differently, but many people experience some form of PTSD. PTSD is characterized by a wide range of trauma symptoms, including intrusive memories, flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, avoidance behavior, emotional numbing, and feelings of guilt and shame. These normal reactions are often triggered by reminders of the actual event, including sights, sounds, smells, and even thoughts about the event. 

    Children and teens are particularly susceptible to developing PTSD because of their young age, limited coping skills, and inability to understand what is happening to them. Other mental health concerns include depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, eating disorders, self-injurious behaviors, and suicide ideation. They often don’t understand what happened and how it affects them emotionally. And if they do try to tell someone about what happened, they may have difficulty talking about it. They may also feel confused, angry, sad, scared, guilty, ashamed, numb, or hopeless. After a traumatic event, children may develop physical health problems like stomachaches, headaches, sleep disturbance, and irritability. Even though children and teens tend to recover faster than adults, they still experience long-term effects. Getting the appropriate treatment can help prevent these issues.

    How can I help my child recover from trauma?

    Parents and guardians are essential in offering support and reassurance to a traumatized child. You can provide comfort, reassurance, and understanding while helping your child cope with the emotional impact of the traumatic event. Encourage healthy ways of dealing with upsetting memories, thoughts, and emotions while teaching your child how to recognize signs of distress and seek help. It’s important to remember that every child responds differently to traumatic events. Some children will need more support than others. But no matter what trauma your child has experienced, you can help. Here are a few more tips to consider:

    1. Provide a safe environment. Make sure your home is where your child feels a sense of security. Avoid exposing your child to triggers, such as places where they saw or heard the traumatic event. Keep your child away from situations that remind them of the event.
    2. Listen without judgment. You might want to avoid discussing the event’s details, as this could trigger painful memories. Instead, focus on your child’s feelings and needs. Ask questions such as “What was going through your mind when this happened? What did you think would happen next? How does this make you feel?”
    3. Encourage your child to share their feelings. Help your child express their feelings. Encourage your child to write down thoughts and feelings. Your child might want to draw pictures or use crayons or markers.
    4. Help your child learn new coping skills. Teach your child relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or tai chi. Also, teach them ways to cope with negative thoughts and feelings. This includes recognizing and managing anger, sadness, fear, and other strong emotions.
    5. Be patient. Recovery takes time. Don’t expect your child to return to normal overnight. Give your child plenty of time to talk about what happened.
    6. Seek professional help. If your child continues to have problems, see a mental health provider specializing in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The sooner your child receives treatment, the sooner they can begin to heal.
    7. Take care of yourself. It’s normal to be upset after experiencing a traumatic event. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your child’s symptoms, you should seek professional help. You can’t help your child if you don’t care for yourself.

    Can therapy help my child get past the trauma?

    Therapy provides your child with a safe place to express and work through thoughts and emotions. Your child will not have to worry about being judged. This will allow your child to process the traumatic event(s) and move forward. Therapists can help your son or daughter develop healthy coping strategies and teach them how to manage stress.

    Your child will learn to cope with fear, anger, sadness, and anxiety. They will begin to understand why they feel specific ways and learn to change their thoughts and behavioral responses. Therapy can teach your child to accept the reality of their situation and control their daily life.

    Therapy also helps you, the parents, deal with grief and loss. Parents often find it challenging to respond to their child’s behavior changes. You may be struggling with guilt, believing you may have caused or could have prevented the trauma. By attending counseling sessions individually or together, you can support each other and your child during this challenging time.

    Where do I find a trauma therapist for my child?

    If you’re worried about your child’s emotional well-being, your child needs professional help. Talk to your child’s doctor, who can recommend a qualified mental health trauma therapist. They are licensed professionals who specialize in treating children. You can also search Psychology today for “child trauma therapists” to find a list of providers near you.

    New Heights Counseling offers child & adolescent trauma counseling.

    At New Heights, our therapists are mental health professionals who specialize in trauma counseling. Our goal is to help children and adolescents overcome the impact of trauma and learn new coping skills. Our therapists use evidence-based treatments and therapeutic approaches to treat trauma, including but not limited to the following types of therapy:

    • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy developed specifically for treating PTSD and other trauma-related disorders. The goal of TF-CBT centers around helping children to develop new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving to reduce symptoms of PTSD.
    • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is used to reduce the effects of trauma. EMDR uses eye movements to facilitate the processing of painful memories. EMDR for children works to decrease ongoing distress associated with traumatic experiences.
    • Play therapy is used to help children express feelings and explore issues that arise from trauma. Play therapy aims to help children develop healthy relationships with themselves and others. Play therapy helps children learn how to regulate emotions, manage stress, and cope with difficult situations. Children who have experienced abuse often have difficulty controlling intense feelings, which may lead to anger out.
    • Family therapy addresses family dynamics and communication patterns that contribute to trauma. The whole family is affected when a member experiences a traumatic event and needs to work through the challenges of dealing with trauma. 
    • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) prevents future trauma by teaching self-regulation and problem-solving skills. DBT is an effective treatment in reducing suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among youth. The therapist helps children identify their triggers for negative thoughts and behaviors and teach them how to cope with these triggers when they arise.

    The therapists at New Heights Counseling work closely with you, the parents, or guardians to support your child. Through counseling, they will gain insight into what happened and begin to process the trauma. As your child becomes more comfortable discussing their experiences, trust is gradually built with the therapist. A child can often reach the point where the trauma does not have such an overwhelming effect and begin to establish hope for a better future—the anxiety and stress level associated with traumatic events decreases. Your child’s behavior and emotional well-being will improve, and happiness eventually returns. During the healing process, your child will slowly gain strength and confidence.

    Contact us today if your child has experienced a traumatic life event. Our therapist will become part of your child’s support team and work alongside you to improve your child’s quality of life. 

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    About the Author:

    Colleen Wenner New Heights Founder Clinical DirectorColleen Wenner is the founder and clinical director of New Heights Counseling, where she provides counseling services for individuals struggling with mental health issues. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Master Certified Addiction Professional. Colleen is a certified supervisor in Florida and an EMDR trauma-certified practitioner and consultant in training. Colleen is committed to providing excellent client care and services the Fort Walton Beach, CrestviewNicevilleDestin, and surrounding communities.

    Colleen has consistently advocated for mental health wellness and has dedicated her entire life to promoting awareness among the public. She is featured on various podcasts such as Practice of the Practice (The #1 Podcast for counselors in private practice), Shrink Think Podcast, and The Salty Christan Podcastto name a few. She has also contributed to several Yahoo Best LifeUnfinished ManUpJourney, and WebMD articles. Colleen uses compassionate and authentic communication to help clients understand themselves better and feel more confident about their ability to improve their lives.