If a child or teenager in your care has been through a traumatic experience, there is a lot you can do to help. Your own coping style and mental wellbeing can significantly influence how well a child or teenager in your care recovers from a traumatic event. As a caregiver, it is therefore very important to look after yourself first and seek help as early as possible if you are finding it hard to cope.
Trauma-focussed therapy is an effective, recommended treatment for PTSD for children and teenagers. Medication is not recommended as the first-line treatment.
The recommended treatment for children and teens diagnosed with PTSD is a ‘talking therapy’ known as Trauma-focussed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT). This has been found to be helpful for children of early primary school age and older. Treatment is tailored to the age and developmental stage of the young person being treated.
Most people, when something bad happens to them, try to avoid thinking about it or talking about it as it makes them feel uncomfortable and upset. But it is this avoidance that keeps the person always on edge and stops the mind from being able to make sense of the memory and pack it safely away.
Trauma-focussed Therapy for children and teenagers works by gently supporting and encouraging them to start to talk about or express their feelings about the traumatic event. It is done in a way that is safe and that helps their minds make sense of what has happened. This treatment teaches age-appropriate skills to help the young person better manage their scary or upsetting feelings about the trauma.
During trauma-focused therapy the child or teenager will:
Parents or caregivers will also be supported, with the aim of helping the child or teenager recover.
When choosing a counsellor, it is okay to discuss the following points: