Attachment and Trauma Therapy
Early adverse experiences can have a significant impact on our relationships later in life, including parent-child relationships. Families may have been impacted by experiences of trauma, including loss, abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence, or attachment disruptions such as separation, multiple moves, and extended periods of time apart. Parents and caregivers often come to us when their child is struggling with some big behaviours and big emotions. They might be seeing kicking, screaming, crying, or seeing that their child is very anxious and ‘clingy’, or very sad and distant, or they might know that their child is struggling at school. Parents and caregivers might also be struggling with their own big emotions that are impacting how they respond to their child or children.
Family therapists and counsellors work collaboratively with biological, kinship, foster and adoptive families to understand the impacts of adverse early experiences on the parent-child relationship, the emotional needs that the child’s behaviours are signalling, and how to make changes to better meet these needs. The work focuses on strengthening the parent-child relationship and enhancing the wellbeing of the family.
The involvement of parents, along with the child/children, is important to the therapy process and to achieving positive outcomes. The therapy work may include sessions with parents, parents and children together, and children on their own. It is often important for parents to explore their own attachment and trauma history as part of understanding the needs of their child/children. Play-based activities are often incorporated into work with children, as well as education about attachment and the effects of trauma.