Review - The Simple Guide to Child Trauma


The Simple Guide to Child Trauma


Betsy de Thierry, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, paperback, 80 pages, £8.99 ISBN-13 9781785921360

Reviewed by

Gordon Campbell, foster carer and social Work Assistant


** Recommended


As a foster carer and social work assistant and I’m always looking for new ideas around communicating with the children I encounter day to day, particularly around behaviours.

On first picking up this book, I must admit to having been a little sceptical as to whether the author could realistically simplify such a complex subject in so few pages. How much credible insight was there going to be and, although it would clearly be a quick read, would it be a worthwhile one?

Yes it is short in pages, but maybe that’s a good thing, because over a number of days I revisited it a few times and I was informed, able to retain the information and most importantly apply it.

Even in the simplest of guides it can be easy to be overwhelmed with the subject matter and the depth of research and theory, however, the book flows very well. As outlined in the foreword, it’s not a toolkit; it’s a book you should really read as a whole. In doing so you unearth little nuggets of understanding, suggested practice and reflection.

This is not a book littered with jargon or complexity and I feel it uses language that I can identify with and feel confident speaking about. The idea of ‘safe relationships’ and of the brain going ‘offline’ are good examples of the simple but powerful language scattered throughout the chapters.

I think that the book successfully gives an understanding of what trauma is, its effect on children, and in turn, on ourselves. I would have preferred it to go on a little more about the practicalities of helping the recovery. Also, in the section on self-regulation I felt some of the practical ideas were not the most inspiring, and I would have welcomed a little creativity.

The importance of relationships runs throughout the book though equally it touches on the need for management of your own feelings. I felt encouraged after reading this to dip my toe a little deeper into these areas. That’s really what a simple guide should do; it should be the starting point that directs you to greater knowledge and understanding.

I wish I had a book like this when I first started fostering, as it would have been very helpful. It is maybe a book more helpful for someone who is new to the role of caring for children rather than an experienced foster carer.

It is, as the author share’s in her introduction, ’a book designed to bring hope, I’m keeping my copy of this simple, but certainly punchy and informative, guide on the book shelf to go back to every now and then just to find some more of those nuggets!