Therapeutic Approaches in Work with Traumatized Children and Young People: Theory and Practice

By Patrick Tomlinson | Go to book overview

Chapter 12

Leavings, Endings
and Beginnings

Traumatized children are likely to have experienced difficult endings and leavings. Trauma disrupts the sense of self. Rather than experiences having a beginning, middle and end, the trauma disrupts the ending or becomes the end. Traumatized children often find it difficult to complete or enjoy experiences due to their fear of what is coming next. Trauma may have been followed by changes and endings in the child's life such as leaving home. Endings or leavings might have been followed by trauma. The careful management of leavings, whether it is the child or an adult who is leaving, provides the opportunity for addressing many matters connected with trauma.


Preparation for a child's planned leaving

For anyone, leaving home can be difficult. It is especially so for a young person who is leaving a residential home, where he may have been living for many years but may have no continuing support and contact that a family might provide. It is crucial to prepare for this so that the transition is positive.

During a child's treatment, the sense that he is ready to leave may come from him, those working with him, his parents or social worker. When this question arises, it will need to be discussed. There is a need for a clear procedure to assess the appropriateness of leaving. The potential to collude in the ending of a child's placement comes from all directions. The child may invite us to collude with him, avoiding his real needs by presenting as a

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