Child & Youth Stress and Trauma
Children and youth that have been involved in a traumatic situation can sometimes be left unable to cope with what just happened. The loss of a close loved one, such as a parent or grandparent, a difficult divorce, natural disasters, and other traumas can all have a tremendous impact on a child’s mental health and overall well-being.
Symptoms & signs of child and youth stress and trauma
Children and youth often don’t know how to deal with these stressors, so they cope in other ways and may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Overwhelming fears of things that are normally not seen as scary
- Inability to concentrate
- Trouble performing in school
- False sense of bravado (daring)
- Regressing to a younger or infantile state
- Shock, denial, confusion
- Low self-esteem
- Inability to complete normal daily functions
- Withdrawing from others
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeplessness
- Stomach aches or headaches
- Sleeping too much
- Lack of energy
- Flashbacks or nightmares of the traumatic incident
- Memory issues
- Aches and pains
- Tense muscles
When is it time to get help?
You know your child – if you’ve noticed that your child is not themselves, or they just seem “off” to you, if you look at the list of symptoms and see that they are experiencing some that are not typical for them, and if they’ve recently experienced a traumatic situation (or you suspect they may have), then it’s time to seek help. As well, if other people such as other family members, teachers, coaches, etc. notice and express their concern about a change in your child – that’s a good indicator to seek treatment.
Child and youth trauma and stress treatment methods
Getting to the root of the issue is the first step in helping your child work through the stressors and traumatic situations they’ve experienced. There are several therapies that are effective, depending on the age of the child. An evaluation by one of the licensed child psychologists in Edmonton and Calgary at Insight Psychological will be done to determine the best types of therapy for your child. Treatment methods include:
- Family systems therapy looks at the family as one emotional unit. This therapeutic approach looks at the relationships within the family and the structure as a whole.
- Art therapy clients use their imagination to approach and explore their emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Especially useful in young people and people with developmental delays, when their motor skills exceed their verbal skills, they’ll get more out of art therapy than talk-only.
- Play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all of which make use of one or more of the natural benefits of play, using toys, dolls, games, etc. Play allows children a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows them to express their true thought and feelings in ways best suited to their developmental level.
- Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is defined by EMDR Canada as an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and many other mental health problems that utilized bilateral eye stimulation or somatic responding.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
You can get much-needed support for your child (and for you) to help them to process the stress or trauma they’ve faced. Left untreated, trauma will likely show up later and can possibly become more sever or complex, so early treatment is always best. We have therapists on our team that specialize in children’s therapy and parenting issues and support. These therapists know how to relate to children at an age-appropriate level and can help them to express what they’re feeling.
Please contact Insight Psychological today. We have offices in multiple convenient locations across Alberta.