Saturday, February 26, 2011

Some Signs of Post Traumatic Stress in Children

In children it is particularly important to watch for physical as well as emotional/psychological symptoms. These symptoms are frequently misdiagnosed or overlooked. This does not mean that the presence of one or two symptoms means your child has been traumatized as the same symptoms can also indicate other physical or psychological problems. Some common signals of traumatic stress in children following a traumatic event are:

-Changes in sleep/eating patterns
-Startle response
-Frequent constipation or diarrhea
-Bed wetting or soiling
-Wetting or soiling of clothes
-Changes in speech
-Physical aches and pains
-Sudden sweating or heart palpitations
-Emotional outbursts
-Acting out sexually
-Refusing to sleep in own bed
-Decline in schoolwork
-Change in behavior at school
-Loss of interest in friends or activities
-Poor concentration
-Poor memory (particularly of the event)
-Emotional numbing
-Self mutilation
-Minimizing the experience of the event
-Misplaced guilt

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a powerful method of trauma recovery for children age 2 and up. Children usually process trauma more quickly with EMDR than adults do. I combine EMDR with cognitive therapy, sand tray & play therapy, and art therapy when working with children under eight. Parents often sit with their children during the process. Most children will no longer be disturbed by the traumatizing event or have symptoms of traumatic stress after 5-10 sessions.

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