“Trauma-Focused Therapy” is a specific approach to therapy that recognizes and emphasizes the understanding of how a traumatic experience, or a set of experiences, impacts a child’s mental, behavioral, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. This type of therapy is rooted in understanding the connection between the trauma experience and the person's emotional and behavioral responses.
A trauma-focused approach seeks an awareness of the widespread impact of trauma on life experience and relationships. It recognizes trauma’s role in the outlook, emotions and behavior of a person with a trauma history. A trauma-focused approach also accepts that trauma’s impact is far more prevalent than most people realize. As trauma-informed therapists, we choose to focus not only on the behavior someone is trying to change —but also on the underlying reasons for the behavior and the relief it provides currently. We focus on behavior, beliefs and desired relief so we can do repair work at the deepest level to make the change long-lasting. A trauma-focused approach attends to the underlying trauma from any cause.
The purpose of trauma-focused therapy is to offer skills and strategies to assist your child in better understanding, coping with, and processing emotions and memories tied to traumatic experiences, with the end goal of enabling your child to create a healthier and more adaptive meaning of the experience that took place in his/her life. For all of the recognized approaches for treating traumatic stress in children, it is vital that children be encouraged to face their traumatic experience(s) gradually and only in a way that they can handle emotionally. Since all children do not develop emotionally at the same pace, it is important to tailor the treatment to the child’s level of emotional and cognitive development.