How we work
Trauma is defined as an experience where the person is terrified and powerless and then overwhelmed. It is not so much about what has happened to them but how that impacts them.
Written by Betsy de Thierry 2015 ©
At the TRC we partner with the
BdT Trauma Recovery Focused Model
At the TRC we are trauma recovery focused rather than just trauma informed, because we believe that recovery from trauma is possible.
We recognise that trauma recovery is not taught in any qualifying course within the specialised professionals that work within the mental health and psychological therapy sphere, and so we all work within this framework. Each practitioner who works with the children and young people is regulated by their own therapy board, and as a team we then work within the BDT Trauma recovery model.
According to the BdT TRFM, trauma informed work recognises the centrality of relationship, the impact of threat and fear and acknowledges that children communicate their needs and fears through behaviour. Trauma Recovery focused work builds on that foundation but aims at not just helping the children to engage in the short term but actually recover from the impact of the terrifying experience. Trauma impacts people in the subconscious and body and as such all our psychotherapists are taught to know how to facilitate recovery for the child and young person from the negative impact of the trauma on the body, emotions, subconscious and relationships.
The key principles of the model are:
1. Understanding the
The trauma continuum can help all those who work with children to use a common language, which consequently enables a child to receive appropriate interventions that are suitable for their level of traumatic response. The trauma continuum is shown here.
Type I or ‘single incident trauma’
is usually defined as a one-off traumatic incident or crisis. Single incident trauma is difficult and painful and has the potential to cause injury to the child. This level of trauma, however, usually has less stigma associated with the experience; therefore other people are often responsive and supportive to those who have experienced these traumatic incidents and the person who has experienced it can speak about it. This would result in Type I trauma being placed at the beginning of the trauma continuum, especially if this was an experience within the context of a stable family where processing difficulties is a normal cultural expectation, as this could significantly limit the damage.
The continuum progresses according to the degree of trauma experienced, the amount of different traumatic experiences, and the level of social support and family attachment a child has to enable them to process and recover.
Type II trauma
Type II trauma involves repetitive experiences that are terrifying; these can rarely be spoken about due to the shock, possible threats, loyalty issues, confusion or a dissociative response due to the level of terror and powerlessness.
We work effectively with dissociation. (Usually Type 2 & Type 3 Trauma)
Type III or complex trauma
is positioned at the furthest end of the continuum and involves multiple different traumatic experiences that are serious, repeated and often started at an early age. They could be experiences such as a child who suffers from multiple abuse and/or neglect over many years (pervasive), without a setting in which the traumatic experience could be processed or spoken about in a recovery-focused manner, due to either the primary caregiver’s absence, neglect or inability themselves to cope with the trauma. Complex trauma usually involves interpersonal violence, violation or threat and is often longer in duration. It is almost always an experience that causes a strong sense of shame due to stigma, and therefore silence, which can lead to the person feeling isolated and different. For example, repeated sexual abuse, trafficking, torture, organised abuse or severe neglect (de Thierry 2015).
2. Recognising complex trauma
A traumatic experience could be repeated bullying, bereavement, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, domestic violence or abuse, an accident, a severe illness requiring medical intervention, a parent’s physical or mental illness, violence, neglect, etc.
3. Creative therapies are more effective
than CBT or verbal therapy for trauma.
At the TRC, our team of therapists are all qualified, regulated creative therapists. They are either play therapists, art therapists, music therapists or creative therapists. Neurobiology evidences that when we become stressed or experience trauma the Broca's area of the brain goes 'offline' and we find it hard to put our thoughts and feelings into words.
A continuum of roles within
Trauma Recovery focused approach
de Thierry (2023)
The Continuum of Role for Trauma Recovery (de Thierry, 2023) was developed to help the most traumatised people in our nations find the help they need and also has the potential of helping the professionals working within mental health and trauma understand the importance of recognising the whole continuum of trauma impact- that ranges in severity. For many of us we need first aider and paramedics occasionally to help us process trauma. But when we need a doctor or a surgeon it would be helpful to have one who had that specific training and experience and is supervised appropriately.
If our waiting list is full
If our waiting list is full, this is what you need to know to find the best help for your child.
Lots of trauma informed services exist but here’s a little checklist to think through how to get the right help for your child’s specific needs:
What are the current symptoms or signs that your child is distressed? Try and make a note of those.
Is there any experience that the child has had, of terror, powerlessness and overwhelm, and did you see the symptoms increase since that time or period of time.
Duration of the distress - how long has the child been distressed?
Has the child always shown some symptoms of distress or lack of ability to display social norms?
Or is it a post incident experience and/or developed over time?
Do you notice any changes in the severity of symptoms and the setting?
The Trauma Continuum can be viewed above on the video.
For Type 1 trauma -
short term/ recent signs of distress following incident, look for:
Mentoring; community club/ group; creative space; verbal counselling; CBT; movement, & exercise; Forest outdoor experiences.
Type 2-3 trauma: distress over a longer period of time, and / or traumatic experience that has persisted. This will be the same as Type 3 below, however is may be a bit shorted in time. Depending on their current home and school situation will determine whether the child can process their experience using any words.
Type 3 / developmental trauma: Ideally these children & young people need longer term therapy that’s relational based, and that uses a combination of therapy practices, within the BdT Trauma Recovery Focused Model.