Disorders and Treatment
- Mental Illness
- Bipolar Disorder
- Mood Disorders
- Borderline Personality
- Mental Health Diagnosis
- Mental Health Treatments
- Alternative Meds
- Case Studies
In addition, one of the usual methods for adults, that of multiple detailed reviews of the trauma until the person becomes desensitized to the facts, was just far too brutal for a child. The ‘flooding’ method was developed for soldiers with PTSD…people who presumably had a very strong ego before their trauma. For a child who may have been abused his whole life and thus has a very damaged ego, repeating the details of the trauma over and over is just ridiculous.
I started to study PTSD in children and have been developing my own Gentling process for about twelve years. During the past six years or so, I have taught the method to many foster parents and other treatment professionals, and they have all had good success with it, where other approaches have not helped the child to make progress.
What I have developed with Gentling makes use of general cognitive-behavioral techniques, but with the addition of some very specific techniques and a loose structure course of treatment. Basically, Gentling 1) strives to help the child feel safe in all environments, 2) sensitizes him to his own symptoms (since he has lived with them his whole life, he does not recognize them as disordered), 3) educates him on how PTSD works in his body and mind, 4) teaches him how to interrupt his own stress episodes to be more comfortable, and finally, 5) helps him to become less reactive to cues and triggers. This is all done at the pace the child dictates, and all work is done with an exceedingly gentle approach.
How should a parent prepare to understand, treat and heal PTSD in her child? Getting parents or foster parents on board the treatment plan is very important. I spend a great deal of time educating adults around the child (including teachers, extended family members, fellow professionals, even judges) in first fully understanding how PTSD works in children, and then in the Gentling techniques of healing.
One final question: Why do you choose to work with children? I don’t fully understand my passion for helping abused children to heal, but it might be summed up by one little boy I treated. He had been beaten and thrown in a closet by his stepfather (who knew the boy was frightened of the dark), then the stepfather screwed the door shut. His mother found him hours later, when she came home from work. He was terrorized, and he had torn all of his fingernails off in trying to get the door open. After he related this story to me, he hugged me and said: “When I talk to you Mr. Bill, the hurt goes away.”
The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.