Addressing Childhood Trauma
We see it in their anxiety about new or challenging situations, the anger that simmers just below the surface, difficulty with attachment, their apparent lack of interest in their education, the push-and-pull of their close relationships. Many of the youth who come through our doors are struggling.
Their issues didn’t develop in a vacuum. That’s why we have been really relieved by new opportunities that have opened up to allow us to set the youth on a path to wellness. Our new two-pronged approach involves both referring youth to a psychiatrist and following their case, and trauma focused therapy.
The opportunity to begin to refer youth to a psychiatrist came to us through our partnership with Woodview Mental Health Services in town. Because we have licensed social workers on staff, we can directly refer youth to a psychiatrist, support them through the process, and follow their case. This is an important step in getting answers to what is really going on.
The other crucial piece is trauma-focused therapy. For the first time, through a new partnership with Grand River Counseling, some of our youth are able to receive counseling in a setting where they already feel safe.
Trauma-Focused Therapy helps the youth to address the ways that their traumatic childhood experiences continue to impact them. This helps the youth develop skills and strategies to better understand and cope with their trauma and the emotions that follow.
Long term effects of Childhood Trauma include:
- Problems in relationships
- Trouble with authority figures such as teachers or police officers
- Trouble expressing emotions resulting in angry or violent outbursts, or inappropriate responses
- More susceptible to depression, anxiety and anger
- Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD)
- Risky behaviours such as drinking, smoking, drug use, self-harm, or overeating
- Dissociation from traumatic experience
Our immediate goal is that the youth would learn to understand their past and that their pain or confusion over traumatic experiences would be reduced. We hope the youth will develop effective coping strategies and understand themselves better.
Our long term goal is that our youth would break the trauma cycle that may be generations long. This will ultimately help our youth go on to achieve wellness, to have a happy and healthy adult life, and achieve the potential we see in all of them. In short, they would begin to THRIVE.
While the connection to eMental Health program is free of charge, engaging licensed therapists is very costly. We want to thank our partner, Grand River Counseling for reducing their cost to accommodate our youth. We are also deeply grateful to the Rotary Club of Brantford and Rotary Sunrise, as well as the Stephen Smith and Dorothy Woltz Foundation whose grants have allowed us to get this program off the ground.