Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop after something scary, shocking, dangerous, and or life-threatening happens. Children who are exposed to violence, are victims of physical or sexual abuse, experience a medical trauma, a car crash, or experience a sudden and tragic loss are all vulnerable to develop symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There are multiple approaches to counseling for children with PTSD.
It is important to remember that trauma is a subjective experience. The way kids experience a traumatic event is just as important as the ‘facts’ of what happened. It can be easy for parents and caregivers to downplay a child’s experience because “it didn’t seem that bad,” or “the same thing happened to be me when I was their age.” Every child reacts differently to an event. If you’re wondering whether or not something that has happened is bothering your child, you should talk to him or her about it.
The sooner that kids get help after being exposed to a traumatic event the better. Caregivers are important in helping children with post-traumatic stress disorder. Parents have the amazing ability to provide safety and security for traumatized children. Safety lays a foundation for healing and recovery.
Common symptoms of PTSD in children:
- Intrusive Thoughts about the Traumatic Event: Thinking about the traumatic thing that happened when they don’t want to.
- Hypervigilance: Persistently being on the look out, or expecting something bad to happen. Some children have exaggerated startle responses or seem jump at any sudden noise or movement. This can cause difficult paying attention or concentration as children are preoccupied with worry.
- Avoidance: Fear or avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event. These can activities, places or physical reminders.
- Sleep Trouble: Trouble falling asleep, or frequent nightmares. Nightmares do not need to be specific to the trauma.
Counseling for children with PTSD or who have experienced Trauma:
For children who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an effective, evidenced-based counseling approach. It focuses on strengthening the relationship between a caregiver and child, and teaching the child and parent strategies to manage stress.
Looking for help for a child or teen in Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan or Southwest Michigan?
Call 269-615-7637 to get help for your child who has experienced trauma or may have PTSD