Trauma Therapy for Kids in Arlington Heights, IL

Knowing when to seek help for your child’s mental health is an important job as a parent. While changes in behavior are a natural part of growing up and understanding the world, it’s essential to recognize when they may signal a cry for help. Have you noticed your child has become persistently depressed, sad, or angry? Are they struggling to cope with daily stresses? Have they undergone recent abuse or trauma? Our experts at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights are here to help. 

In this article, we explore the crucial role of trauma therapy in helping children overcome adversity and build resilience. Keep reading to learn more about the signs of traumatic stress, how trauma affects children, what trauma therapy is, treatment options, and how caregivers can help.

How Does Trauma Affect Children?

A young girl covering her face with both hands

According to the National Center for PTSD, 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys experience at least one trauma in their childhood. Trauma can have a profound effect on children, impacting their emotional, cognitive, and social development. It can lead to anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, difficulty concentrating, and academic struggles. Not every child knows how to express their feelings or talk about what they’re going through. So, as a parent, it’s important to know what to watch out for. After experiencing trauma, your child may feel scared, sad, angry, or stressed. 

They may suffer from guilt, shame, low self-esteem, or even grief. Trauma can also affect relationships with peers and caregivers, leading to trust issues and challenges in forming healthy attachments. Trauma can affect your child’s mood, daily behavior, or sleeping patterns. They may act out at school or withdraw and seem sad or grumpy. Over time, unaddressed trauma can increase the risk of long-term mental health issues and may affect your child’s life well into adulthood. Early intervention and support are essential for helping children cope with and overcome the effects of trauma.

Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children

Learning about the signs of traumatic stress as outlined by SAMHSA is a great way to get your child the help they need. We use the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC) at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights to assess trauma-related symptoms in children, such as: 

  • Anxiety: Assessing feelings of fear, worry, or nervousness. 
  • Depression: Evaluating feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or withdrawal. 
  • Post-traumatic stress symptoms: Examining symptoms such as intrusive memories, nightmares, avoidance of trauma-related stimuli, and hyperarousal. 
  • Dissociation: Assessing experiences of feeling disconnected from oneself or the world. 
  • Sexual concerns: Exploring symptoms related to sexual behavior, knowledge, and worries. 
  • Anger and aggression: Evaluating feelings of anger, irritability, and aggressive behavior. 
  • Trauma-specific symptoms: Assessing symptoms directly related to the traumatic event, such as flashbacks or physical symptoms. 
  • Self-concept: Exploring feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. 
  • Post-traumatic play: Assessing trauma-related themes or behaviors through child’s play. 
  • Total stress symptoms: Combining scores across all domains to provide an overall measure of trauma-related distress. 

What Is Trauma Therapy?

Trauma therapy is a specialized form of therapy aimed at helping children who have experienced abuse or traumatic events. It typically involves various evidence-based techniques and approaches to addressing the emotional, cognitive, and physiological effects of trauma. 

There are several different types of trauma therapy. Trauma therapy may include elements such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness techniques, and somatic experiencing. The goal of trauma therapy is to help your child process and make sense of their traumatic experiences, develop coping strategies, reduce symptoms, and ultimately promote healing and resilience.

How Does Trauma Therapy Work?

According to Kids Health, therapy helps children to safely share their feelings and get support. Talking through their experiences can teach them coping skills and self-calming techniques. The goal is to allow children to change how they think and feel about what they’ve been through. 

If you’re a parent looking to get help for your child, you may be wondering what trauma therapy looks like. Trauma therapy works by addressing the emotional, cognitive, and physiological effects of trauma through various evidence-based techniques and approaches. Here’s how it typically works: 

  • Creating safety: The therapist creates a safe and supportive environment where your child feels comfortable exploring and processing their traumatic experiences. 
  • Psychoeducation: The therapist educates your child about trauma and its effects on their mind and body, helping them understand their symptoms and reactions. 
  • Trauma processing: Through techniques such as CBT, DBT, EMDR, or narrative therapy, the therapist helps your child process and make sense of their traumatic memories and emotions. 
  • Emotional regulation: The therapist teaches skills for managing overwhelming emotions and physical sensations associated with trauma, such as mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and grounding exercises. 
  • Cognitive restructuring: The therapist helps your child challenge and reframe negative beliefs and thoughts stemming from the trauma. 
  • Prolonged exposure therapy: In some cases, using exposure-based techniques to gradually expose your child to trauma-related stimuli in a safe and controlled manner helps reduce fear and avoidance behaviors. 
  • Building coping skills: The therapist helps your child develop healthy coping strategies for managing stress, triggers, and symptoms related to trauma. 

How Long Does Trauma Therapy Last?

According to Health, most trauma therapy lasts eight to 15 weeks, with sessions held every week or every other week, but each case is different. The duration can vary widely depending on the severity of the trauma, the child’s response to treatment, and your specific therapeutic goals. Trauma therapy is a process rather than a quick fix, and it often involves multiple stages of treatment. 

Some children may find relief from their symptoms relatively quickly, while others with more complex or severe trauma may benefit from longer-term treatment. The therapist will work with you and your youngster to determine the duration and frequency based on an ongoing assessment of progress and your child’s needs. It’s essential to continue working with kids with trauma until they feel they’ve achieved their treatment goals and developed coping skills to manage their symptoms independently. 

Visit NeuroHealth Arlington Heights

If you notice your child becoming more aggressive, withdrawn, or struggling to cope with daily life, it’s imperative to seek professional guidance. A decline in school performance or having trouble making friends can also indicate that your young one needs professional support. Trust your instincts as a parent, and don’t hesitate to contact a mental health professional at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights if you have concerns about your child’s well-being. Early intervention can make a significant difference in helping your child navigate challenges and thrive emotionally.

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