Trauma Therapy and Traumatic Grief Therapy





Trauma Therapy (TT) is a specific form of psychotherapy that is very effective in treating children and adolescents who have been exposed to some kind of traumatic experiences and are presently suffering from symptoms associated with a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTBS).  Typical symptoms of PTBS are chronic forms of hypervigilance, tearfulness, avoidance behaviour, hypervigilance, unstable moods, frequent unexplainable angry outbursts or persistent nightmares.  The trauma experienced by the child/adolescent may have been a “one-time” traumatic experience such as being involved in  a car accident, a victim of a natural disaster or a medical procedure experienced by the child as “traumatic” at the time.  The PTBS-symptoms may also be the result of “multiple or chronically” experienced traumatizing circumstances such as being the victim of bulling/mobbing over a longer period of time, of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or of neglect and/or early deprivation of emotionally reliable and caring caregivers (in this last example, Attachment Therapy with child and adoptive or foster parents may be indicated).

Several forms of Trauma Therapy are available.  The form chosen for a particular client depends on several factors – one of them being the degree to which a client suffering from PTBS symptoms is willing and able to face the disturbing memories of the traumatizing event in the safe environment of the therapist’s office.  This is not always immediately the case.  Therefore, a trusting therapeutic relationship first has to be established by breaking the therapeutic process down into three phases.  The child or adolescent is first taught to self-calm him or herself when he or she feels overwhelmed by emotionally disturbing memories.  His or her “self-healing” capacities are mobilized or stimulated to develop.  The next phase is the “confrontational” phase.  During this phase the therapeutic technique “systematic desensitization” is applied.  The client is guided through the process of gradually exposing and narrating details of the traumatic experience little by little while applying the self-calming and self-healing strategies he or she learned and practiced during the first phase of therapy.  The final phase is the “integration” phase.  The client learns to accept that whatever happend, happened – but that life goes on – and, despite the bad things that happend in the past, a bright and optimistic future lies ahead.

Traumatic Grief Therapy (TGT) follows a somewhat different procedure than is the case with other forms of TT.   This kind of therapy is offered in the case of prolonged and/or persisting grief, despite a supportive environment or if a child or adolescent exhibits symptoms indicative of an inability to grieve appropriately.    Various forms of Trauma Therapy, include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Narrative Trauma Therapy, Creative Sand-Tray Therapy, Hypnosis, the use of hand puppets, therapeutic story books and drawing etc., may be chosen as the most appropriate form for each individual child or adolescent.  These different forms of TT are either offered in their “pure” form or in combination with other therapeutic strategies (also CBT, BT, Schema Therapy), depending on the needs of the child or adolescent.   A TT treatment plan is always developed in collaboration with the parents or guardians of the child or adolescent in question.