Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Cognitive Therapy with Children and Young People

By Patrick Smith; Sean Perrin et al. | Go to book overview

7
Cognitive therapy for PTSD with
younger children

In Chapter 2 we described how young children may show a broader pattern of responses to exposure to trauma. This requires a different set of diagnostic criteria and attention to particular patterns of co-morbidity. The nature of trauma exposure in young children means that parents and carers are commonly involved in the event, at least as witnesses; and, of course, young children rely relatively more on their caregivers. Family factors may play a greater role in younger children’s responses to and recovery from trauma exposure. This chapter describes two examples of working with young children. They are based on real cases, but details have been altered to preserve anonymity. The first concerns a five-year-old boy and describes how individual and parent work were combined. The second summarises work with a seven-year-old girl who had witnessed a killing, and includes the interweaving of trauma and grief-focused work.


Case 1: Simon (5 years old)

Assessment

Simon was a five-year-old boy referred by his family doctor for assessment and treatment of sleep problems and behaviour difficulties that had arisen following a nasty accident nearly a year previously. Simon had been playing in a small playground near his home, supervised by neighbours. As he tried to clamber over a wall to retrieve a ball, the wall collapsed and fell on top of him, resulting in a compound fracture to his right leg and deep lacerations with considerable blood loss. The neighbours had immediately called an ambulance and carried Simon to his house where his mother waited with him in the hallway as she tried to keep him awake and conscious. His leg required numerous operations over the following months, but was healing well by the time of assessment.

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