Trauma, Violence and Stress Management in America
How it works
Attachment Therapy Intervention
Child-parent psychotherapy is an intervention technique used in young children with attachment disorders. This approach looks at the parental role in a child’s emotional attachments and how the child-parent relationship affects other relationships in a child’s life. According to Hagan, Browne, Sulik, Ippen, Bush, & Lieberman (2017), the main goal of child-parent psychotherapy is to address the quality of attachments between a young child and their primary care giver and to discover how those attachments affect the child’s responses to danger and safety. Through weekly therapy sessions, the child and parent can work through recognizing and appreciating each other’s thoughts, feelings, and desires to strengthen their relationship. When looking at trauma symptoms, child-parent psychotherapy has been shown to reduce the posttraumatic stress symptoms in children and posttraumatic avoidance in mothers exposed to domestic violence (Hagan et al., 2017). The effectiveness of child-parent psychotherapy may depend on the frequency of traumatic exposure, the family history of trauma and abuse, and the number of therapy sessions. As attachments are restored between the child and parent, trust and safety are also restored in the relationship, which helps the parent and child work through and move past their traumatic experience. Following a traumatic event, child-parent psychotherapy can restore attachment relationships that have been affected and re-establish a sense of safety and trust within the parent–child relationship.
Critical incident stress management is a model of crisis intervention designed to help individuals process their traumatic experiences. These experiences can cause strong emotional, physical, and behavioral reactions in individuals, leading to dysfunction in daily life. There are two important phases of critical incident stress management, including emotional diffusing within the first 24 hours following the incident and formal debriefing within the first 72 hours following the incident (Blacklock, 2012). Emotional diffusing includes anyone involved with the incident and is designed as emotional first aid immediately following the traumatic experience, whereas a formal debriefing is a structured environment that involves anyone or involved in the incident (Blacklock, 2012). Critical incident stress management can help to reduce stress while providing a sense of safety and support to individuals following a traumatic experience. Through critical incident stress management, traumatic event survivors can feel empowered to move past their experience, enabling them to return to their normal daily functioning more .
Exposure Therapy Intervention
In vivo exposure therapy can be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders following a traumatic event. Through direct, consistent exposure, an individual is confronted with undesirable stimuli until the stimuli no longer cause anxiety. A therapy session using in vivo exposure usually lasts up to one hour and is especially effective for individuals resistant to more conservative forms of therapy (Thyer, 1981). As exposure times and levels increase, the anxiety a person feels towards a stimulus may decrease or even be eliminated. Once an individual is able to manage their fear associated with their traumatic experience, their quality of life may be improved, their avoidant behaviors may be eliminated, and they may return their pre-trauma level of functioning.
Blacklock, E. (2012). Interventions following a critical incident: Developing a critical incident stress management team. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 26(1), 2-8. doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2011.04.006
Hagan, M. J., Browne, D. T., Sulik, M., Ippen, C. G., Bush, N., & Lieberman, A. F. (2017). Parent and child trauma symptoms during Child–Parent psychotherapy: A prospective cohort study of dyadic change. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 30(6), 690-697. doi:10.1002/jts.22240
Thyer, B. A. (1981). Prolonged in vivo exposure therapy with a 70-year-old woman. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 12(1), 69-71. doi:10.1016/0005-7916(81)90032-X
How it works