Therapy After Trauma: What to Expect

If you have, or know, a child who has been exposed to trauma, it’s important to seek out appropriate treatment and support. Trauma is the experience of violence or victimization including sexual abuse, physical abuse, severe neglect, loss, domestic violence or witnessing of violence, terrorism or disasters.

The most important thing parents and caregivers can do is believe a child when they come forward about abuse or witnessing violence.

What can I expect?

A specialized intake team should determine the type of treatment that would best benefit each child. Following a clinical diagnostic assessment, a trained clinician will recommend a type of treatment. Clinicians should always take the family’s preferences into account when making treatment recommendations.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT).

The goals of TFCBT are to reduce risk of re-victimization and to teach skills that help increase a child’s ability to be assertive, social, and participate in extra-curricular activities. This type of therapy is widely supported because it has a high success rate and focuses on the child as well as the parent/caregiver and how they can best support the child moving forward.

How long would my child be in therapy?

Therapy is not forever; it varies based on individual and family circumstances. However, on average, therapy sessions last anywhere from 3-5 months.

What if I have more than one child who needs therapy?

That’s okay. The safety and well-being of all children exposed to trauma is important. Based on family preferences, therapy sessions may include siblings who can stay together in the same room. Or, if you have multiple children and only one is in need of treatment, look for a facility that offers childcare during appointments at no cost.

Which type of therapy is right for my child – individual or group?

Each child will have their own unique experience. Based on symptoms the child is showing, (e.g., separation anxiety, disruptive behavior at school) clinicians should recommend several options. And, if your child doesn’t seem to be doing well in one type of therapy, it should not be a problem to switch. Treatment groups help children and adolescents to express feelings, decrease isolation, learn about safety planning, healthy relationships, and provide education to non-offending caregiver(s) or parent(s).

At The Center for Family Safety and Healing (TCFSH), our mission is to break the cycle of family violence and restore hope. To learn more about family therapy options at TCFSH, please click here or listen to our PediaCast.

Karen Days, MBA
Karen S. Days is the president of The Center for Family Safety and Healing (TCFSH), which takes an integrated team approach to breaking the cycle of family violence and child abuse.Karen previously served as the president of the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence (CCAFV) since its founding in 1999 and was interim president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which was merged with CCAFV to create the new CFSH.Karen previously spent 10 years working in the criminal justice field. Currently, Ms. Days is serving as a board member of the Columbus Board of Health, Franklin County Community Based Correctional Facility, Ohio Domestic Violence Network, the Learning Circle Education Services, Advisory Board of the State Victims Assistance Act (SVAA), and Ohio Dominican University Board of Trustees. She also served on the Columbus Police Foundation Board, Mount Carmel Hospital Foundation Board of Directors, YWCA Columbus, YMCA Metropolitan General Board, and the Board of Trustees for the United Way of Central Ohio.She has received the “Women of Achievement Award” from the YWCA and the “Karama Community Leadership Award” from the Columbus Urban League. Karen earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology/Criminal Justice from The Ohio State University and an MBA from Ohio Dominican University.

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