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What is trauma?

A simple definition is that trauma is anything that is unpredictable, prolonged, and overwhelming. This definition is broad enough to include individualized interpretations of trauma events.

I am a child welfare worker and feel tired all the time. I don’t even want to answer my cell phone when I’m off. What is up with that?

It sounds as though you are experiencing the symptoms of vicarious trauma which occurs when we see multiple incidents of traumatic history and don’t take the time for self-care. We must create options that allow us to express our own fears, anguish, and stress. It is only through processing through our own stress that we can get to a place of self-awareness so that we can be fully present for those in our lives that need us.

I have an adopted child who is not responding to my discipline? I find myself frustrated and angry. What should I do?

Start with an understanding of the changes that occur in the brain from an early history of trauma. These changes affect how a child responds to their environment. Important to understand is that trauma interrupts the child’s ability to process in a sequential manner, they respond emotionally. If we are able to give a child the opportunity to express and process their pain they can move to understanding and healing. Providing an accepting relationship will allow the child to process—either verbally or non-verbally in an effort to move through the pain of their past. In addition, the introduction of sensory activities can provide the child opportunity to process their pain through sensory exploration.