Prerequisites for traumatic intervention in children and adolescents

Whatever the therapeutic approach, any psychotherapeutic intervention with children and adolescents requires know how to adapt this intervention.

This is why we must begin the therapeutic approach from the point of view of neurodevelopment and attachment, properly understanding the emotional and maturing states associated with the experience of the trauma they may have gone through.

    Adapt psychotherapeutic intervention in minors

    Insofar as the trauma was prior and the resources of the present are scarce, the initial emphasis of the intervention should be on the interaction game. That is to say, to promote the relationship by means of the game, by stimulating the curiosity to be able to arrive through the game, as much to the regulation as to the connection.

    Gambling is a great way to capture attention and interest. This implies that the child therapist must possess or develop the ability to integrate the game in a fun and enjoyable way, which is not a duty in the therapeutic process, but pleasure and curiosity.

    In addition, he must be able to make the family understand that play is therapeutic in itself, and involve them if the parents are ready to do so. If they are, they will have to participate in the dynamics of the game and promote them between sessions; otherwise, parents should be prepared in advance, if possible. There is nothing more engaging and better than sharing moments of shared satisfaction.

    In the case of adolescents, it will be very important have dynamic batteries that capture your interest and that they are means of accessing the inner world.

      The hanging

      Integrating characters or caregivers into the process is essential; we do not have children or adolescents without parents and guardians. They are the ones who have the ability to cushion the impact of life, be it positive or negative experiences.

      The best intervention is not one that targets exclusively the symptoms presented by the child or adolescent, but one that also includes how the bond, the relationship within the family system, amplifies or makes it difficult to exit the symptom or behavior problem cycle.

      The biological aspects of hooking up

      When the attachment is not secure enough, hormonal biology can serve as a guide for the states we want to emulate and achieve so that there is an evolution in the style of attachment made more secure.

      Safe interactions balance several hormones. On the one hand, oxytocin, which stimulates the bond and activates when we show interest through warm facial expressions, eyes, looks, hugs and hugs, empathy and a full attention to someone or to ourselves (as in meditation).

      Like that, oxytocin makes it easier for us to focus on the positive feelings and emotions of the experience; it is the shy hormone that is inhibited in the face of lack of interest and contact.

      In addition, these safe interactions lead to the presence of serotonin, known as serotonin. the hormone of joy or self-esteem, as we separate him in the face of the joy of success and accomplishment, as well as when we discover the satisfaction and pride that the other feels in realizing our merits. Likewise, serotonin is also facilitated by sports, nature and is inhibited by stress, insomnia, adversity or bad news.

      And the third hormone present in a safe interaction is dopamine, which is secreted in the face of pleasure, excitement, pleasant and pleasant sensations.

      For baby and child, this whole pleasurable sensory experience is achieved through contact with their main hanging figure, usually the mother. Not surprisingly, a baby’s separation from their primary attachment figure, usually the mother, generates a reaction similar to abstinence.

      And if we look closely at the game, we will see what is the ideal activity that can lead us to this relaxed and pleasant relationship, in which the therapist and parents focus all their attention. In this interaction through play and relationship, the balance between the three hormones occurs.

        Therapy game

        Play therapy is well aware of its benefits; so, the combination of game dynamics in psychological stabilization phases, in which it is conducive to experiencing what is missing or lacking in family interactions, opens up new opportunities for us to repair or amplify regulatory systems.

        All this will lead both to regulation in contact with the other, dyadic, and to self-regulation without falling into the hyperfocus of the game, where the other is annoying.

        To know read the child’s body expression in the present tense, a reflection of the pain and its defensive dynamic in the face of the problematic situation and the family relationship, is essential, and this gives us the opportunity to create a state of co-consciousness that will allow us to transform and change the beliefs under -jacent.

        In childhood and adolescence, therapy is based on the interrelationship generated by the game and the development of storytelling. Both allow the child and the adolescent to make their story their own. And it is essential that the family system accompanies and goes at the same time. If this does not happen, we will only be able to correct the symptom temporarily.

        Trauma intervention

        Sometimes therapists are too daring in childhood and adolescence, and we think that with a child everything is worth it: telling a story, tapping while we tell it, etc. And we are not aware of exposing the child, with an early traumatic experience, to information and an internal experience that he does not know how to communicate or manage.

        This is why it is essential to be properly trained in trauma-focused therapies, as an EMDR, and complete the Child and Adolescent Therapy training course, in order to become a successful child and adolescent EMDR practitioner.

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        EMDR Europe recommends that only EMDR therapists trained with children and adolescents intervene therapeutically with the EMDR model with the population of children and adolescents and with adults with cognitive disorders, because only they will be prepared to make the necessary adaptations at each stage of cognitive, emotional and psychomotor development.

        Author: Cristina Cortes Viniegra, EMDR Trainer for Children and Adolescents and Director of Vitalizing Health Psychology.

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