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.
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 release some feelings of the blame and shame they carry from their past. Attachment-based therapies are most often recommended for children who have been adopted, 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).
Children who have been adopted very often have experienced trauma before they developed language. This means that they may have no words to describe how they feel and often have little awareness of, or control over, their behaviour. For a child who feels they are struggling in everyday life and who needs additional therapeutic support, beyond which is currently being provided from within the family unit, we can fund sessions with a children’s therapist.
Therapy for children may be offered as art therapy, play therapy, drama therapy, music therapy, equine-assisted therapy, osteopathy & cranial sacral therapy and reflexology.
It is important for parents to recognise that therapy itself is hard work for anyone, particularly children. When we put the word play, art, music in front of the word therapy, it doesn’t mean your child is going to be having fun at their sessions or learning to play a new instrument. It is simply an approach to help your child feel safe enough to explore some of their darker truths and experiences. Sometimes parents will notice a deterioration in their child’s behaviour during children’s therapy and this is a relatively common response and something to be prepared for. For some children this isn’t the case, but for others, things can get worse before they get better.
Current trauma research has outlined that early trauma is stored in the body, many times unknowingly, until it is triggered. For children who are holding body trauma they may have an extreme response to seemingly unrecognisable triggers, escalating from 0-100 in a matter of seconds. We work closely with a trauma-informed cranial sacral and cranial osteopathy therapist who can offer support to families who are experiencing the physical symptoms of trauma.
(1) Bessel van der Kolk quoted in The Limits of Talk, Psychotherapy Networker, traumacentre.org