What You Should Expect from a Trauma Specialist

By TLC
Posted on October 22, 2013, in Grief and Trauma

A Good Trauma Specialist Will . . .

  1. Take time with you to explain the differences between trauma and grief.
  2. Want to see you alone the first session to determine how your child was before the trauma and since the trauma.
  3. Provide trauma specific information and discuss what will be done in therapy sessions.
  4. Will inform you as to the use and importance of drawing and story telling.
  5. Have a brief video presentation which includes traumatized children and their responses to trauma specific help.
  6. Be familiar with books like, Treating the Traumatized Child, Beverly James; Breaking the Silence, Cathy Malchiodi; Kids on the Inside Looking Out After Loss, William Steele, and other books by Lenore Terr, Cynthia Monahon, Beverly James, Claudia Jewett, or articles by Pynoos, Green, CLark, Matsakis, Saigh, Stuber, Terr, Yule, Nader, McNally and others.
  7. Be a member of International Association of Trauma Consultants or other trauma related organizations.
  8. Provide, when asked, Certificates and/or biographical information related to their work, specifically with traumatized children.
  9. Want you involved in some of your child’s therapy sessions, to have your child review with you what they have learned.
  10. Inform you that trauma reactions may return at the different developmental stages your child passes through because as your child grows older he/she will relate to their experience differently.
  11. Suggest evaluation for medication on a temporary basis in order to stop those reactions which are depriving your child of lots of rest, nutrition and sense of calmness (relief from some of their anxiety).
  12. Be open to second opinions or suggesting your child be seen by his/her colleagues for further evaluation when it has been difficult to determine what reactions, in addition to trauma reactions, your child might be experiencing.

NOTE: a good trauma specialist will not diagnose your child with Attention Deficit Disorder without utilizing tests to rule out other forms of anxiety and depression.

What to Expect from Trauma-Specific Intervention

  • Sometimes results can be seen following one interview other times it may take several sessions.
  • If there are no observable results in six-eight sessions there may be:
    1. other disorders present which are complicating the healing and further evaluation is necessary
    2. the child may simply have been so terrorized that their reactions are deeply buried or inaccessible to their memory in which case their reaction may be delayed for years
    3. other stressors are contributing to the lack of results, i.e. family turmoil or stress
    4. the personality of trauma specialist and child simply are not compatible in which case a good trauma specialist will indicate such and recommend a transfer or referral.
    Should any of the outcomes described in “a” - “d” take place, a good trauma specialist will consult with you about their concerns and recommend additional approaches.

Intervention is a Process

The goals of intervention:

  1. Stabilization (return to previous level of functioning or prevention of further dysfunction).
  2. Assessment of the child’s coping skills.
  3. Identification of PTSD reactions.
  4. The opportunity to revisit the trauma in the supportive, reassuring presence of an adult (professional) who understands the value of providing this opportunity.
  5. An opportunity to find relief from the terror.
  6. An opportunity to re-establish a positive “connectiveness” to the parent or caretaker.
  7. To normalize current and future reactions.
  8. To support the child’s heroic efforts to become a survivor rather than a victim of their experience.
  9. To replace to the child’s traumatic sensory experience with positive experiences.
  10. To avoid the creation of a problematic parent-child relationship frequently experienced after a trauma experience.

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