Helping Children Cope With Trauma Essay Sample

Personal Practice Framework Assignment

There are various circumstances in life that can completely shake an individual in the course of living. These circumstances can often lead to traumatic experiences. Individual trauma is caused by an event or rather a series of events or conditions that are experienced by a person and are harmful either physically or psychologically to them, consequently leading to adverse long lasting effects on the functioning of him or her as well as the individual’s physical, emotional, social, psychological and emotional wellbeing. However, how well they are dealt with highly depends on one’s resilience. The paper aims to discuss the harmful impacts children exposed to domestic violence in Australia suffer from and the creative interventions necessary to give them the opportunity to express themselves and understand the manifestation of trauma to successfully recover from it.

Trauma in Children

According to the Childhood Foundation of Australia, trauma changes the manner in which children comprehend the people around them, the places they live in and the entire world in general. Basically, there are various types of traumas. However, psychologists highlight two basic types of traumas: the simple trauma and the complex trauma (Mucci, 2013). The simple trauma is associated with the stressful events that do not occur regularly, like floods or earthquakes. On the other hand, the complex trauma is the type sustained as a result of the events that are repeated or prolonged, such as abuse. The trauma that occurs in children and youth’s lives is mostly caused by the happenings that make them feel helpless and therefore lacking the ability to cope up with the situation at hand. Various individuals have the wrongful beliefs and misconceptions that children cannot be affected by trauma as they cannot in most cases recall events that are traumatic to them (Herman, 2015). However, while working with children and youths, it is crucial to note that trauma frequently has very serious effects on both of them. They are more vulnerable to trauma as they depend on others for both care and safety. They are particularly influenced by the occurrences that take place during their early childhood. Such experiences are believed to be making them more vulnerable to trauma. To add on, while working with children and youths, it is also important to do away with the notion that the feelings of children and youths should not be acknowledged (Routt & Anderson, 2011). This is because the behavior of traumatized children and youths is largely interpreted as either naughty or even bad and thus ignored.

The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

The social learning theory cautions against making children experience domestic violence in any way because of the negative implications the effects have on children. Basically, the children who live in contact with domestic violence constantly suffer both emotional and psychological trauma. The effects of living in homesteads are dominated by tension and fear (Richards, 2011). This is because they witness their mothers being threatened and demeaned and even physically and sexually assaulted. They might also be involved in the domestic violence by the abusers and manipulated to hurt their mothers. The research carried out by the Queensland Domestic Violence Taskforce of Australia states that 90% of children in homes with domestic violence has witnessed the violence against their mothers and are thus traumatized (Domestic Violence Prevention Centre, 2016). In addition, according to the research conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology, the majority youths surveyed had reported the experiences of domestic violence in their lives (Richards, 2011). Based on Maslow’s transpersonal theory in regard to self-actualization, an individual has to be brought up in a nurturing environment with social support for self-actualization to be successful. Consequently, the children raised experiencing domestic violence may lack successful self-actualization in later life (Adler-Tapia, 2012). Moreover, being involved in the domestic violence makes the children to be traumatized and this affects their day to day emotional, physical and cognitive development. A large percentage of children in Australia living under domestic violence conditions develop trauma during their developmental stages of life. This trauma has very negative effects on them.

Negative Effects of Trauma on Children

There are various negative influences of trauma on children as a result of domestic violence. To begin with, the children may be shocked, stunned and frightened. They are also physically upset and usually lack the basic understanding of what is going on around them. Besides, they develop the regressed behavior which eventually turns into confusion (Cross, Mathews, & Ouimet, 2012). This confusion often turns their lives upside down as evidenced by the change in their learning and thinking capacity. On numerous occasions, they look withdrawn, moody, irritable, noisy or, on the contrary, too quite. Apart from these emotional and behavioral changes, they may lack initiative and confidence. Many of them have low self-esteem and are pessimistic in respect to their future (Cross, Mathews, & Ouimet, 2012). Some may seem embarrassed because of the happenings in their families and thus demonstrate poor self-image that leads to entering marriages or relationships early with a view of escaping the family home. Certain youths might even start engaging in drugs and substance abuse while trying to fight the trauma of domestic violence (Lamont, 2010). Apart from this, the adverse effects of trauma may develop the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), whereby causing the complete withdrawal from the important aspects of life. These children consequently lose hope in life and attain a pessimistic attitude towards life.

Children’s Resilience against Domestic Violence

Resilience typically involves an individual’s capability of adapting to extra ordinary circumstances with the aim of overcoming trauma. For successful resilience, individuals are supposed to accept themselves and their lives as such that have to be coped with, in addition to having a confident optimism. They also have to engage in the activities that are autonomous and productive apart from having a supportive environment (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2012). There are different ways of building resilience during traumatic experiences. They include making connections, accepting that change is a part and parcel of life, moving towards the established goals and taking decisive actions.

Surprisingly, when making their own families, the children and youths from homesteads with domestic violence tend to demonstrate a rather higher state of wellbeing as compared to those from non-violent homes. Additionally, when working with children and youths, it was realized that the effects of trauma on them differ because of various reasons. To begin with, the disparity depends on the period of time and the age the child or youth had exposure to the violence (Atkinson, 2013). The effects also vary depending on whether or not the child or youth experienced direct child abuse in the process of domestic violence. Besides, the impacts may be different if there were additional stressors such as poverty, substance abuse by parents, a mental illness in parents or family life disruptions. Another important factor is whether they had any support in social networks, necessary strong and positive coping skills, as well as the access of the family to health and social services.

As mentioned earlier, the age of the children and youths, their coping ability as well as the social support influences their degree of trauma. The research also indicates that the ability of the children and the youths to withstand the trauma caused by living in homes with domestic violence is closely linked to the capability of their mothers to maintain the functions of mothering, their ability of modeling assertive and non-violent responses and maintaining positive mental health (Pernicano, 2014). Furthermore, the coping capacity of children and youths is notably increased in case of high levels of social support from friends, the extended family and the whole society at large. However, various interventions should be applied in order to help the victims cope with the traumatic experiences. The interventions are crucial as unaddressed trauma increases the danger of being exposed to numerous chronic illnesses, such as mental disorders. Finally, adequate support besides appropriate interventions can help the children and youths to overcome the traumatic affects.

Children Trauma Interventions and Services

As a part of coming up with the interventions to help the children and youths that are traumatized with domestic violence, a group concerned with the safety of the families that the traumatized children came from was organized. Therefore, it primarily aimed at working with the children on identifying the best options to ensure the safety of their families. The group also considered legal advocacies as well as temporary shelters for the victims. It was made sure that the abused parents or caregivers were safe and also assisted the older children and the youths in planning for safety. The activities implemented helped them develop the specific strategies so that they could gain a sense of control enabling them to be less vulnerable to such kind of violence (Malchiodi, 2014).

Additionally, the group provided effective child and family therapies. There are various interventions in counseling and mental health that can be used to help the families and children affected by domestic violence (Bateman, Henderson, & Kezelman, 2013). Basically, these families require a lot of therapy in the form of case management apart from advocacy. This is necessary in order to assist the victims of domestic violence to navigate the legal system and to obtain the resources and support needed by them to maintain security and safety for their children and for themselves (Pernicano, 2014). Lastly, the members of the group also worked on individual therapy and treatment to the traumatized children beginning with their identification and assessment.

Identification and Assessment

The children living under the shelters of battered women and those whose mothers seek community based legal assistance in coping with domestic violence constitute a large percentage of the ones traumatized by domestic violence. Therefore, these categories were the first group of children identified and offered to receive therapeutic interventions (Atkinson, 2013). However, unfortunately there has been an increased tendency of the Australian population to remain secretive in regard to domestic violence. Most children fear reporting child abuse and trauma resulting from domestic violence as they are concerned with the consequences that come with this. In addition, the women suffering from domestic violence also tend to keep silent for the sake of their family’s presumable “safety”. Thus, this being a hindrance to the identification problem, the group involved the school personnel who helped in identifying the traumatized children basing on their change in behavior and learning performance in schools as they spend a lot of time with them there.

After the identification of the traumatized children, an assessment of the children, their families, their living conditions and the nature of their traumatic experiences during domestic violence in their homesteads was conducted. Different recommendations can be used in helping a child develop resilience to the abuse depending on the age of the child and his/ her developmental stage, as well as the duration of the symptoms of the child in respect to trauma. The impact of the trauma on the functioning of the child, their perception in regard to the domestic violence, and the ability of them to speak about the domestic violence and the safety of the current environment are also taken into account while recommending on the possible ways of dealing with the issue (Cross, Mathews, & Ouimet, 2012). These recommendations helped the group in assessing the traumatized children as they enabled the observers to gather data from the community and their parents on the basis of their initial and while-questioning reactions. The group activists have also managed to reach out to the children who had developed coping strategies and helped them speak out about the domestic violence which eventually helped to guide them towards full recovery.

Therapy Approaches

A variety of therapy approaches, including group and individual therapies, were used. Group therapy was considered especially carefully as it is commonly used as a method of intervention for the children going through domestic violence and therefore traumatized. A specific psycho-educational curriculum provided discussion structures regarding domestic violence, the safety of the children and the identification of feelings and proved to be extremely effective. It targeted all the children from six years to fifteen years of age, while setting aside those with a complex trauma, as this group required serious individual intervention. For instance, the kids who had lost one of their parents during domestic violence fell under an individual intervention as they were highly traumatized (Adler-Tapia, 2012). Group intervention was very successful as a therapeutic method as well, since these children were able to open up by telling stories of their experiences, therefore breaking their internal isolation. The observers were then able to have regular discussions with them towards their full recovery. Later, their mothers were involved in the recovery process hence building a healthy relationship with their children through engaging them in therapeutic programs.

On the other hand, individual intervention was performed on children with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These children were helped by encouraging them to discuss their traumatic experiences resulting from domestic violence, identifying their feelings and learning how to manage the symptoms. During individual interventions, the group also involved their teachers and caregivers in the process of treatment (Pernicano, 2014). It is crucial as it assists in stabilizing the children in a safe home as a part of a successful therapy. It is also useful in creating a positive bond between the children and the nonviolent care providers or parents. The group members served as the advocates who helped the children to go towards their full recovery by stressing to the nonviolent parents on the negative outcomes of domestic violence for the children and guiding on how they can help them cope with the effects.

The Provision of Education on Trauma and Full Recovery

Conveying crucial information on the most common reactions to trauma is very helpful both for the child, their families as well as the people around the victim. Therefore, the group commenced on the community sensitization of trauma, its nature, negative implications for children and how they can be aided to recover from trauma (Malchiodi, 2014). Consequently, in the provision of education, the members of the community were divided according to their ages and talked to separately. The researches talked to parents about the importance of avoiding inflicting trauma on their children and how this can be done. In addition, the teachers and community leaders were involved into the discussion on the crucial role of helping the traumatized children and informed about what to expect as far as the reactions of the traumatized children are concerned. Besides, they were advised how to handle these situations to ensure a full recovery of the children. To top it all, the group also provided consultations in schools, healthcare, religious and spiritual settings on adequate responding to children exposed to trauma.

Conclusion

Most children living in close connection with repetitive domestic violence in Australia consequently develop trauma and even posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD) as they are either directly or indirectly involved and subjected to its ruinous influence. Trauma has negative implications for these children as it affects they normal physical, emotional and cognitive development. However, these kids and youths are often quite resilient as they develop their own mechanisms of coping with the traumatic experiences of domestic violence. Nevertheless, while working with the traumatized children in Australia, their identification and assessment is essential as these are the first steps on the way to full recovery. While helping them to recover completely, it is important to conduct both group and individual interventions as effective therapy approaches followed by the provision of education to the community concerning the deteriorating contribution of domestic violence to trauma in children and regarding how the adults can be assisted in overcoming the traumatic experiences of domestic violence in their families.