Child Trauma: Symptoms and Treatment

Trauma for a child occurs when the child is confronted with an unimaginable event with negative emotional features. This event may have occurred in the past. It might be a serious accident in the family car or the physical abuse of their mother etc. The event might be anticipated and extremely hard to think about such as an impending medical procedure that will involve pain. In any event, painful chilhood experiences cause the child to mentally and emotionally shut down in an attempt to limit their experience of the impact of the trauma. This shutting down also comes with other costs. During this time, the child is not able to further develop, learn or maintain meaningful relationships. It becomes critical for the child to move past the trauma in order to get back on a normal developmental track. The child moves past the trauma by integrating it, separating it from themselves or by fully repressing it. The counseling of a child is geared towards assisting the child in moving past the trauma in which ever way it is most natural for this child. The child’s experience of the trauma is likely to be a combination of splintered disconnected painful memories and impending sense of doom. Sometimes the child will also experience flash backs or intrusive memories that make no sense to the child. These experiences lend themselves to be discovered and played out through play and activity therapy. The goal of this counseling is to help the child connect the fragmented memories into a coherent story which the child can gradually accept or to help a child develop and accept a different story that allows the child to function.