Assessing and Treating Traumatized Children and Adolescents
According to the Children’s Defense Fund (2014) each day in America: (4) children are killed by abuse or neglect; (5) children or teens commit suicide; (7) children or teens are killed by guns; (24) children or teens die from accidents; (66) babies die before their first birthdays; (838) public school students are corporally punished; and, (1,837) children are confirmed as abused or neglected. Today’s working definition of child maltreatment as provided by the Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act (2003) is any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in: death; serious physical or emotional harm; sexual abuse or exploitation; or, an act or failure to act, which presents imminent risk or serious harm to a child. It is an experienced event that results in a variety of physical and emotional problems that become the focus of clinical treatment.
Initially, removal from the home and medical treatment protocols targeting external and internal injuries were the primary interventions available to abused children. While physical injuries sustained as a result of trauma have been routinely treated with medical interventions, the effects of psychological trauma have gone mostly untreated until the past 25 years. Early attempts employed interventions that were successfully used with treating adults experiencing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and utilizing them with children. Other efforts involved interventions targeting symptoms such as anxiety or depression in non-traumatized children and applying them to traumatized children.
Gleaned from ‘Tips for Talking with and Helping Children and Youth Cope after a Disaster or Traumatic Event’ (2013), possible reactions to traumatic events include the following according to age range:
Infants & toddlers (0-2 years old) – Cannot understand that a trauma is happening & take their cues from caregivers
Children (3-5 years old) – Can understand the effects of trauma, but may have trouble adjusting to change & loss & depend on caregivers for comfort
Children (6-10 years old) – May fear going to school, stop playing with friends, difficulty concentrating, may exhibit aggressive or regressive behaviors
Youth & Adolescents (11-19 years old) – Go through a lot of physical & emotional changes because of their developmental stage, may deny their reactions, complain about physical aches, or exhibit aggressive or risky behaviors
These diverse reactions emphasize the need for age-specific treatment consideration and interventions. Children are not small adults and their healing requires techniques that address their specific symptomatolgy, and can be delivered in a child friendly manner that engages not only the child, but the caregiver as well.
The Instructor: Gale Kelley, Ed.D.
Gale Kelley is currently the Clinical Director of the Child Protection Center in Sarasota, FL where since 2007 she has provided individual, family, group psychotherapy, and psycho-educational services to more than 750 traumatized children, adolescents, and their family members. Gale specializes in treating issues related to sexual, physical, emotional abuse, neglect, and other trauma-related difficulties (i.e. witnessing murder/suicide, major catastrophes, etc.). She has been practicing psychotherapy for more than ten years and her qualifications include Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Certified Expert Trauma Professional (CETP), National Certified Counselor (NCC), Military and Family Life Counselor (MFLC) approved service provider with the Department of Defense (DOD) Mental Health Network Government Services (MHNGS), Qualified Supervisor for Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS) with the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE), and Expert Witness in the Circuit Court of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit.
Gale is the founder of Trauma Treatment and Mental Health Services which provides individual and family therapy, clinical testing and comprehensive assessments, consultation, and program development and evaluation. Her affiliations include the American Counseling Association, the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the Association of Creativity in Counseling, the National Board for Certified Counselors, the International Association of Trauma Professionals, and the Florida Counseling Association.
Gale has presented trainings/workshops with the Florida Counseling Association (FCA) Convention, the Seminole County Child Protection Conference, the Traumatology Symposium – Argosy University, Webster University, and Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). She developed and implemented the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Title II Grant Programs that provided therapeutic services to traumatized children from age 4 through 18 years old. Gale’s current research continues to focus on developing effective and engaging techniques and interventions that target the very youngest children through adolescent trauma survivors.
Assessing and Treating Traumatized Children and Adolescents
Gale was invited to develop this training module for the International Association of Trauma Professionals (IATP). The training encompasses the causes and effects of childhood trauma, commonly incorporated coping strategies of children, evidence-based assessment instruments and techniques, and best practices treatment considerations and interventions. This training fulfills all educational requirements for the Certified Child and Adolescent Treatment Trauma Professional (CATP) credential. After completion of this training you will be eligible to apply for certification through IATP. The information, techniques, and skills you will derive from this training have been gleaned from the more than ten years of research and treatment Gale has carried out with young trauma survivors and their caregivers.
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (2003). Retrieved February 14, 2015 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/capta2003
Children’s Defense Fund (2014). Each day in America. Retrieved on January 27, 2015 from http://www.childrensdefense.org/zzz-child-research-data-publications/each-day-in-america.html
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (2013). Tips for Talking with and Helping Children and Youth Cope after a Disaster or Traumatic Event. Retrieved on October 5, 2014 from https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA12-4732/SMA12-4732.pdf