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

By Patrick Tomlinson | Go to book overview

Chapter 17

Special Events

Normal childhood experiences will include special events, such as birthdays, Christmas, holidays and festivals. These events affirm one's individual and cultural identity. They can also affirm one's position in the world and specialness. They can add to one's internal store of good experiences. Traumatized children often have had negative experiences of these special events, but providing them may not be easy because of the child's mistrust and associations with previous experiences. At the same time, they provide an opportunity to work through past experiences and to provide a reaffirmation of positive experiences.


The giving and receiving of presents at Christmas

For many children and families Christmas has a major significance. Looked-after children who are away from their birth families at this time may experience this especially acutely. Those children who have no family to be with can feel especially isolated and excluded. Providing a positive experience for these children is one of the most challenging tasks involved in therapeutic care. Without awareness of the difficulties involved, each Christmas has the potential to feel like a failure which could reinforce a sense of hopelessness. Every year at the Community, an immense amount of work would go into providing an experience of Christmas and working with the matters involved. Normally this would be the most emotionally demanding time of year.

We suggested that Christmas is about giving and receiving and it was part of our task to provide children with a 'good' Christmas. This was associated with a fun time, enjoying things together, a magical time, with excite

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