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Trauma Therapy Helps Kids Reclaim Their Childhoods

Brianna* and her two siblings were referred for Safe from the Start (SFTS) services by a DCFS Intact Family Worker as they witnessed domestic violence in their home and were consequently dealing with their father’s incarceration. Brianna’s mother, Samantha, expressed concern over 8-year-old Brianna as she was increasingly angry, aggressive and was grieving her father. Brianna and her siblings engaged in individual Telehealth sessions, and their mother participated in some parent support sessions.


At the onset of therapy, Brianna greatly struggled to discuss thoughts and feelings related to her father and further struggled to express emotions related to the witnessed violence. After several months of rapport building, feelings identification and emotional regulation, Brianna was able to express mixed and complicated emotions surrounding her parents’ separation. Brianna believed her parents’ separation was a positive event; however, Brianna greatly missed their interactions and time together.


Brianna was also able to engage in the creation of an art-based Trauma Narrative that focused on processing the witnessed abuse and on strengthening her current sense of safety and security that her mother built following the separation. Upon the release of her father, Brianna engaged in sessions that focused on identifying safe adults and helpers in her life, as visits with him were set to take place. Brianna’s mother also worked with an SFTS Therapist to discuss ways of maintaining safety during visit exchanges and in strengthening her own supports.


After a total of seven months, Brianna was able to successfully complete therapy. Brianna’s mother shared that Brianna was no longer inappropriately aggressive and was able to channel her energy through soccer and her social life. Brianna continued to have contact with her father upon his release from jail and expressed feeling safe in both of her homes. 


*Name changed to protect the identity of the child.

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