Monday, December 17, 2012

Impact of Trauma on Child Development

The National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention recently released a publication on “Childhood Trauma and Its Effect on Healthy Development.”

Infants and Toddlers:
  • Rely heavily on their parents to protect them and interpret the meaning of social interactions and novel events.
  • Are in the process of acquiring verbal and communication skills and developing a sense of self. 
  • Are still acquiring the skills needed to adjust their behavior adequately in response to changes in the environment.
School Age Children are in the process of developing:
  • A defined sense of right and wrong
  • The ability to empathize with others
  • The interpersonal skills to form relationships with adults and peers
Adolescents are:
  • Experiencing physical and social changes
  • Gaining more independence
  • Establishing their personal identity

Emotional Aftermath of Abuse

The emotional aftermath of abuse can include shame, anger, feelings of powerlessness, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Without treatment, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can generate physical and emotional hyper-arousal -- often characterized by emotional swings or rapidly accelerating anger or crying that is out of proportion to the apparent stimulus.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway has released an information brief on Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children Affected by SexualAbuse or Trauma.

Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is ”an evidence-based treatment approach shown to help children, adolescents, and their caregivers overcome trauma-related difficulties.”

Promoting Resiliency In Foster Care Youth

Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative recently released a news brief on “Promoting Development of Resilience among Young People in Foster Care.

The Core Principles they recommend, in order to support the process of developing resilience for young people in foster care include:
  • Optimism:  There is no “point of no return,” from which a young person cannot return. As long as young person is living and breathing there is hope.  
  • Strengths-based approach:  Look for the young person’s areas of competency and strengths. It’s not enough simply to remove one or more risk factors in their life – the next step is focusing on Developmental Assets.
  • Community partnerships: Effective intervention will include awareness of resources in the local community.

In addition, when it comes to building resilience, the brief recommends both strengths-based and process-focused strategies:
  • Strengths-based strategies refers to improving the number and quality of internal and external assets (i.e. tutoring, mentoring, community-based youth activities, parenting education for young parents, recreational activities and adult role models)

  • Process-focused strategies focus on  helping young people develop the skills to adapt to various situations (i.e. coping strategies, interpersonal relationships, cultural traditions and building self-efficacy – belief in their own ability to succeed)