Intended as a guide for clinical therapists who have to deal with traumatized children (often or occasionally), this highly readable book offers in-depth descriptions of nine common responses to trauma in children, and how to help the child deal with the trauma.
The nine responses are:
I bought this book for research purposes, and found it to be an excellent resource for spotting troublesome behavior in kids, and identifying possible sources.
Has anyone else here known any kids who seemed damaged (acted excessively passive, destructive, shy, etc.)? How did you deal with it? -- BrentNewhall
Up until three years ago I was a child and family therapist. At the time I left the field, I was part of a team of therapists dedicated to working with the families of children and adolescents at risk of hospitalization for suicidal, homocidal, or psychotic behavior. I suppose some people might have called the kids damaged. I wouldn't.
The extreme programmers among us might be interested to note that the team I was on practiced co-therapy, meaning we worked in pairs.
If you're interested in learning more about how to help kids who struggle with serious problems, I would recommend reading PlayfulApproachesToSeriousProblems.
Brent, can you clarify your last question? Do you mean how does one cope with the often painful reality that these kids present? Or how does one approach these kids in a helpful way? --DaveHoover
Thanks for your comments, Dave. I meant the latter question ("How does one approach such children?"), but the former is also an interesting question, and I'd be interested to hear people's opinions on that as well.
Out of curiosity, why wouldn't you use the term "damaged?" If an otherwise healthy child has been hurt in such a way that s/he is no longer acting in a healthy way (e.g., is suicidal, or homocidal, or excessively withdrawn, or whatever), it seems to me that the term "damaged" describes them accurately. Or is it seen as a pejorative (I don't see it that way)? -- BrentNewhall
How does one approach such children? With honesty (they can smell a phoney from a mile away), thick skin (many children learn to attack others in order to protect themselves from rejection), patience and love. Meet children on their level. Use their interests as a starting point for conversations. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about professional wrestling through conversations with kids. :-)
Why wouldn't you use the term "damaged?" TheAmericanHeritageDictionary?, defines "damaged" as:
The first half of the definition sounds right, but I don't believe that a person has less value if they are struggling with one or more serious problems. I also don't like the metaphor the term implies: you are damaged, you need fixing, I will repair you. --DaveHoover
Thanks for more excellent advice.
I don't think I'd base my opinion on the utility of the word "damaged" on the exact wording of the American Heritage Dictionary's definition. Wordnet offers:
I also don't see what's really wrong with the implied metaphor; does the child not need to be "fixed?" Can the therapist not "repair" the child? Obviously, if that metaphor leads to a production-line, mechanical approach, that's bad, but as a purely theoretical view of the process, how does it not fit? -- BrentNewhall
I would take issue with the first definition above because of the word "spoiled". Think of spoiled milk. Once it is spoiled, is there any way to "unspoil" it? There is a lack of hope.
In graduate school, I was trained to be sensitive with the words I used when describing people who were struggling with various problems. I believe that the language we use shapes our perception of reality. In a therapeutic relationship, the therapist is in a position of power and her language will influence her client's perceptions. Some, perhaps many, therapists might agree that their job is to repair damaged people. That was not the way I approached it.
When I repair something, it is a mechanical procedure. I diagnose the problem and perform the necessary steps to restore the object to its original state. Humans do not respond well to this sort of approach. We are too diverse and unpredictable.
Even prescribing medications for pyschological difficulties is a trial-and-error process: most of the psychiatrists I worked with had their preferred starting points, but adjusted dosage and medications as the clients reported their experiences. --DaveHoover