Childhood Trauma and Its Effect
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, "all children experience some stressful events. The majority, however, grow up in kind, loving, nonabusive families and never experience a life-threatening disaster.” When children are exposed to traumatic events, however, it is critical that we understand and support them in the weeks, months, and years following the event.
A traumatic event involves a situation that anyone might find scary or difficult to deal with. Such events could include any of the following:
- Being a victim of or witnessing any form of abuse or violence
- Being in a bad storm, such as a hurricane or tornado
- Learning of the death or illness of a close relative
- Having a bad car accident
- Experiencing a house fire
- Undergoing a painful or frightening medical procedure
Children may react to traumatic events differently; some seem to cope well, others may display acute stress reactions that subside with time, while other children may develop longer term symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Children who are experiencing concerning symptoms of traumatic stress or PTSD may:
- Have nightmares about the event
- Startle easily
- Avoid seeing, talking, or thinking about reminders of the event
- Have trouble sleeping or separating from parents
- Experience intrusive thoughts or images about the event
- Experience changes in their mood or enjoyment of activities
At UCCF, we use best-practice approaches to diagnosing and treating trauma in young people. Our trauma-informed treatment approaches may include Trauma-focused CBT as well as new research understanding children's grief and bereavement reactions.
If your child has experienced a traumatic event and/or is experiencing any of these warning signs, we encourage you to contact UCCF for an initial assessment and recommendations on how best to support him or her in a developmentally appropriate manner.