SUBMITTED By ANALENISGI
What happens in early childhood can matter for a lifetime. In early childhood, research on the biology of stress shows how major adversity, such as extreme poverty, abuse, or neglect can weaken developing brain architecture and permanently set the body’s stress response system on high alert.
According to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, providing stable, responsive, nurturing relationships in the earliest years of life can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of early life stress, with lifelong benefits for learning, behavior, and health.
The child clinical team at Analenisgi has been trained in an exciting approach to assist parents of young children who have experienced trauma. The team had the opportunity recently to study infant psychotherapy with Dr. Joy Osofsky at the Louisiana State University Department of Health Sciences in New Orleans.
“When a child has experienced trauma, the child may feel that adults will not be able to protect them, and when both caregivers and children have experienced trauma, such as living in a violent environment, the caregiver and child may remind each other of the trauma so that neither feels safe in the other’s presence,” Dr. Osofsky wrote in Clinical Work with Traumatized Young Children. “Each of these situations places the caregiver-child relationship at-risk for disruption; thereby, increasing the likelihood that the child’s developmental trajectory will be negatively impacted.”
This approach is available for children ages infant to 3 years old. Even very young children can experience severe reactions to traumatic situations such as, a disruption of living place, neglect of their care and safety, abandonment by a parent or parents, or physical or sexual abuse. There are interventions that can assist a young child with expressing their fears and learning to regulate their emotions. Working with the caregiver, the CPP counselor can provide ways for the young child to communicate their concerns and can help the caregiver become more sensitive to what the child is trying to say.
The CPP program provides for an evaluation of the strength and character of the bond between the young child and the caregiver. Through use of the CPP office at the Beloved Women’s Clinic, child parent interactions can be observed and recorded. The counselor and the patent can review the recordings and learn what communication techniques are most effective for their child.
Ralph Murphy, licensed clinical social worker with the Analenisgi Child Team, made the following observation, “It has been exciting and rewarding to work with parents of young children who have lost custody of their children and through the CPP process, support these parents in successfully regaining custody of their children. “
“Through the family evaluations we consistently find that most parents of young children have excellent parenting skills but due to chemical abuse or other behavioral health issues, have not been able to stay consistently focused on positive parenting. When they make a commitment to the CPP process, and follow clinical recommendations for their own recovery, we have seen program outcomes that are a win – win for the parents and the children.”
Info: Analenisgi Child Treatment Team 554-6550. Ask for Tom Slagle, LCSW, Steve Whitehorn, LCSW, or Ralph Murphy, LCSW.