When Trauma Happens

By Teri Karjala; Owner of the Creative Counseling Center LLC- Greenwood Village
Posted

We see trauma on a daily basis.  It can be seen in the downturned eyes of our clients.  In our practice we help children, adolescents, and adults pick up their lives after abuse has occurred.  This abuse takes many forms and can be sexual, physical, emotional, and/or neglect. 

It is our job and responsibility to do what we can to help people move beyond a place of frozen uncertainty to a place of once again finding hope and eventually happiness.  With the recent Aurora Theater shooting, wild fires, and apartment fires it seems as though sadness and destruction has been coming at our community from all angles.  Within the context of these recent events, it is not surprising that more and more people are being impacted by the devastation of how “trauma” can manifest in our lives. 

I often spend time with the families of abused children/teens to educate them on how trauma can affect an entire family.  It can also impart equal devastation on a community as a whole.  Unfortunately, though most of us will encounter some form of trauma, be it mild or major, in our lifetime, we are not given a road map with the path to best facilitate healing and make it through our hour of darkness. 

While some people actively seek out help in healing their traumas others will not and may suffer in silence.  Children, in particular, may not know where to turn for help or how to express the feelings of sadness, anger, fear, and shame, amongst many other emotions, that they may be experiencing.  Standing strong as a family and community is imperative in order to move past troubling times and events.  It is important to understand how you can help your family and community move beyond trauma. 

Whether your child has been impacted by a personal trauma or has been impacted by an occurrence in his or her community here are some quick tips to help your child or teen recover and rebuild when trauma happens:

How to help after trauma happens:

  • Consult with your child's pediatrician for any needed medical assistance.
  • Believe your child and avoid blaming them for what happened.
  • Provide support in a nurturing way.
  • Provide clear, simple, and developmentally age appropriate information regarding what happened. We recommend working with a therapist to help with giving information in stages.
  • Provide an open ear to listen to your child.
  • Validate feelings and encourage your child to express themselves freely. Crying is normal and okay to do.
  • Reassure the child of their own safety.
  • Provide a consistent, predictable, and structured routine (i.e. chores, bedtime, rules, etc).
  • Explore expectations of behavior for your child.
  • Give choices to your child to increase their sense of control.
  • Be careful not to question your child about the traumatic event.  Let the investigators do their part.
  • Take time for self care, so you can be strong for your child/family.
  • Contact a therapist if you or your child need professional support during this time.
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