Our children’s responses are normal adaptations to abnormal experiences.
At TESSA we believe therapeutic services for children form pieces of the trauma recovery puzzle, but they are not the whole jigsaw. The rest of the puzzle is put together by the day-to-day interventions of parents, teachers, other supportive relationships and the gradual development of attachment security over time. So children may recover slowly and have phases of relative calm and stages of challenge.
The therapies we offer can help children develop greater insight and awareness into their own needs, to help them make sense of their experiences and develop strategies for managing feelings and behaviours. Through therapy children can also cast off some of the blame and shame they carry from their past. Attachment-based therapies are most often recommended for adopted children, but other creative, non-verbal approaches also help children address confusing and distressing feelings.
“When people get close to re-experiencing their trauma, they get so upset that they can no longer speak”(1).
Adopted children very often experienced trauma before they developed language so they have no words to describe how they feel and often very little awareness of, or control over, their behaviour. They may store trauma in their bodies so cranial osteopathy or cranio-sacral therapy which work on the body at an unconscious level can help. Likewise, drama and movement therapy, art therapy and music therapy can support children to work through emotional difficulties in a non-verbal way.
Equine therapy and equine facilitated learning are increasingly being used in trauma work with children and young people. Like our children, horses are hypervigilant and excellent at reading emotions. Working with them allows children to self-regulate, respond sensitively to emotional cues, establish safe boundaries and develop emotional intelligence.
These are some of the therapies we are offering through TESSA, but we are open to other ideas and approaches..
- Bessel van der Kolk quoted in The Limits of Talk, Psychotherapy Networker, traumacentre.org.