Communicating with Traumatised Children is the text of Patrick Tomlinson’s Lecture for Foster and Residential Carers in Japan, October 2013.
From the Introduction…
It is important to understand the nature of trauma, how it impacts on child development and the kind of approaches in the work with a child that can enable him to begin recovery.
Trauma is like an emotional shock – an experience that is too overwhelming for the person to process. Normally, with support and over time the person naturally recovers from trauma and is able to integrate their experience of trauma as part of their personal history. In childhood, trauma can be particularly damaging because the child’s brain is not fully developed – therefore the natural development process can be disrupted and become distorted.
Trauma alters patterns in the brain, chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisone are produced in excess, initially as a necessary survival response i.e. to prepare a person to take flight from the threat. Trauma that is repeated over time, often in many different forms, such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as neglect – becomes complex trauma. Providing therapeutic care for children who have suffered complex trauma is an extremely challenging and difficult job.
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