Dr Karen Treisman is a clinical psychologist who has worked in the NHS and children’s services for several years. She has extensive experience in the areas of trauma, parenting, and attachment, and works clinically using a range of therapeutic approaches with families, systems, and children in or on the edge of care, unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people, and adopted children.
Karen is a regular contributor to The Fostering Network’s conference. Karen has a new book out - A Therapeutic Treasure Box for Working with Children and Adolescents with Developmental Trauma: Creative Techniques and Activities – and here she outlines why she has written the book and how she hopes it will help.
Supporting, caring for, and parenting children who have experienced relational and developmental trauma can be complex, multi-layered, and overwhelming. So often, we attend trainings and read papers and books on the theories and models behind trauma, neuroscience, loss, and attachment. This understanding and knowledge base is crucial, necessary, and invaluable; but often leaves people wondering:
- What is the next step?
- What can I actually do?
- How can I apply some of this practically, and into my day-to-day real world in parenting and/or working with a child who has experienced relational and developmental trauma?
- How do I make this child-friendly, fun, and accessible?
- I am still living with a child who is presenting with extreme outbursts, nightmares, anxiety, and so on, what can I actually do to respond to these?
- I am struggling to build and strengthen a relationship with my child, how can I work on this?
How do I look after myself when I am feeling so emotionally and physically depleted?
While this book is not claiming to be all encompassing, it is intended to address and support some of those dilemmas and questions. It offers a theoretical background and draws on a variety of trauma-informed and attachment-aware models including ideas from neuroscience, sensory processing theories, and relational approaches. It alsooffers over 600 tangible and creative ideas and strategies. There are photocopiable worksheets and handouts which can be directly used and/or tailored with children and adolescents, and also a range of different ideas which can be adapted and applied. This book is large in scope and size, it is A4 and thick, and quite literally bursting with resources and ideas. It truly is intended to be a treasure box compendium of ideas and take-home tools.
A focus on the ‘how to’
This book focuses on the ‘how to’; and offers ideas which support the concept that children are doers, and that trauma has a multi-sensory and whole-brain-body impact on developing children and adolescents.Therefore, the approaches and interventions need to themselves match this and be multi-sensory, creative, and whole-brain informed. This book also has the mantra that relational trauma requires relational repair (Treisman, 2016); and therefore, the underpinnings of this book are fully centred and anchored on the importance and magic of relationships and connections.
I have written this book as a specialist clinical psychologist, however, I have tried to write it in such a way that it is accessible and engaging and willhave something for anyone working and/or living with children who have experienced trauma and loss. I think it will be useful for social workers, teachers, child care workers, foster carers, kinship carers, adoptive parents, parents, therapists, health professionals and more.
The chapters include the following:
- Introduction to Using the Book, Guiding Principles, and Underpinning Rationale.
- Tools for Supporting the Assessment, Engagement, and Building Rapport with Young People.
- Working Towards Establishing Multi-Levelled Safety (Inner Safety, Emotional Safety, Physical Safety, Felt Safety).
- Strategies for Supporting Children who have Experienced Relational and Developmental Trauma to Identify, Label, Express, and Regulate their Feelings.
- Strength, Resilience, and Hope-Based Practices: Finding Ways to Identify, Notice, Celebrate and Build on Children's Strengths, Skills, Resilience and Positive Qualities.
- Strengthening and Supporting "Parent-Child" Relationships, Relational Trust, and Interpersonal Connections.
- Team Around the Family- Caring for the Caring- Holding Carers in Safe Hands, Thinking Minds, and Regulating Bodies.
- Strategies for Understanding, Reducing and Managing Outbursts, Tantrums, Rage, and Expressions of Dysregulation.
- Supporting Children who are Experiencing Nightmares and Sleep Difficulties.
Preparing, Planning, Reflecting on, and Expressing Endings, Changes, Goodbyes, and Transitions.
To go alongside the book, a series of therapeutic treasure box resources will be released. The first being a therapeutic treasure deck of sentence completion and feelings cards. This comes with 68 brightly coloured cards designed to enrich discussions, assessments, and explorations with children and adolescents. They offer a fun, non-threatening way to help to build understanding and forge relationships; and also, provide a safe and playful way for children to articulate and make sense of their feelings, thoughts, experiences, worries, hopes, and beliefs.
Look out for a review of A Therapeutic Treasure Box in a forthcoming edition of Foster Care magazine.