Lead Clinical Therapist Andrew Cockerell

What You Need to Know

Trauma can lead to impairment and/or high-risk behaviors:

  • Symptoms are coping skills -> normal reactions to abnormal circumstances

Trauma can lead to children/teenagers experiencing:

  • Betrayal of trust, self-blame, anger/aggression, difficulty controlling emotions, hopelessness/helplessness, etc. 

Child traumatization can lead to caregivers experiencing:

  • Inappropriate self-blame and guilt, inappropriate child blame, over-protectiveness, over-permissiveness, PTSD symptoms, etc.


What Caregivers Can Do

  • Be believing, supportive and non-judgmental (this is the biggest healing factor)
  • Continue with routine and structure at home
  • Maintain/continue appropriate discipline (avoid being overly lenient or overly strict)
  • Model healthy coping skills and self-care

Let your child talk about their trauma when they need to:

  • Active listening
  • If you need to prepare to listen, say something similar to “I will hear what you have to say. Give me 5 minutes to get ready and then you can share with me.” 
  • Eye contact, “I hear what you’re saying.”, “Let me make sure I understand you.”
  • Empathy - “That must have been so hard.”, “I understand.”, “I wish that never happened.”
  • Avoid asking questions directly about their trauma
  • Avoid:“Who did it?” “What happened?” “When did it happen?” “Where did it happen?” “How many times did it happen?” “What did you do?” “Why? “Why didn’t you do…”
  • Use open-ended questions that invite them to share more about their experience
  • “How did you feel?” “Is there anything else you want to say?” “How can I help you?”
  • Praise your child
  • “Great job.” “Thank you for sharing that with me.” “You were very brave.”