Helping Parents Make the Shift

Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP

Yesterday morning I was speaking with a colleague who is collaborating with me in the treatment of a 9-year-old boy who was adopted 3 years ago from foster care. We were both very concerned, because the adoptive parents use a punitive style of parenting and they are skeptical about our suggestions regarding a more mindful and attuned approach. Due to defiance and stealing behaviors, the parents have removed all items from the boy’s room except for his bed, and he is grounded from all of his toys, now until the end of time…or longer! The parents believe it is the only way to “break” the little boy from his patterns, and they have explained that their source of information about these methods is the internet. Not surprisingly, the child’s behaviors have become more and more difficult.
My colleague and I decided that we needed to set up a “parent meeting” and speak together with the parents to explain that the information they are obtaining from the internet is sadly out-of-date. The fields of traumatology, attachment, and neurobiology have advanced and converged over the past couple of decades, making it increasingly clear that the behaviors associated with attachment disorder are driven by early attachment trauma.
Infants are born wired to love and be loved, and they are completely dependent upon their parents for their very existence. Imagine the disappointment a young child feels when he is hurt by the parents to whom he is completely devoted…the parents from whom he desperately wants nothing but love, closeness, and attention. When a child experiences deep hurt again and again from his attachment figures, he becomes deeply traumatized.

My colleague and I decided to present Francine Shapiro’s “Adaptive Information Processing” model to the parents, which describes the typical way ordinary experiences are processed and stored in comparison to the way traumatic memories are stored; in separate neural networks in unprocessed form, encapsulated with the feelings and perceptions present at the time of the trauma. This will help the parents understand how their attempts to discipline might be triggering stored traumatic memories and lighting up their child’s brain with fear and anger. The parents also will need to know that we have compassion for the challenges they have been facing, and that we have confidence that we can help. The truth is, within a supportive environment, children’s traumatic past can be effectively addressed (EMDR is one evidence-based method), allowing them to overcome the impact of their earlier experiences and have healthier attachment relationships lifelong.

Clinicians working with complex children and their families also need support. Working collaboratively as a trauma therapist and family therapist team and consulting with and supporting one another to keep up morale can help us stay mindful and present to the families we serve. After our conversation yesterday, my colleague and I both felt re-energized and armed with the language we needed to help this struggling family. 



Did you miss it in March?

We are now offering the Beyond Desensitization Course as an
On-Demand Course for CE credits or EMDRIA credits only!
Take this course self-paced, for a 90 day registration period and receive 6 continuing education credits or register for EMDRIA credits only!
(Please check with your state licensing board to verify eligibility)
Need help for parents with traumatized kids?
Don't forget to check our our
Parent Class Slides!
Carolyn Settle, MSW, LCSW presents:
"Uh-Oh Im Stuck..." Tools for Blocked Processing Using EMDR with Children and Adolescents
August 24, 2018
11-1 p.m. CENTRAL TIME
(May purchase to receive recorded version with no EMDRIA credits if you cannot attend live)
Strengthening the Authentic Adult Self:
EMDR Therapy with Adult Attachment/Developmental Trauma

*Training for EMDR Mental Health Practitioners*

19 Licensure CEs
20.5 EMDRIA Credits

September 6-8, 2018
Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha Training for EMDR and Non-EMDR Clinicians
EMDR & Family Therapy Integrative Attachment Trauma Protocol (IATP-C) for Children
Training for Non-EMDR and EMDR Mental Health Practitioners

19 Licensure CEs
19 EMDRIA Credits

September 20-22, 2018
Omaha, Nebraska

*Sponsored by the EMDR Institute*

LIVE: Virtual Workshop from the comfort of anywhere!

EMDR Integrative Attachment Trauma Protocol
for Children (IATP-C)

Training for EMDR Clinicians that have completed
EMDR Basic Training I and II

12 Licensure CEs
12 EMDRIA Credits

* Sponsored by the EMDR Institute*

Learn to implement EMDR to strengthen attachments, develop self-regulation, and heal attachment wounds rooted in a history of abuse, neglect, early medical trauma, or changes in caregivers through slides, case presentations, and over 30 videos of our work with severely traumatized, complex children. 

October 5-6, 2018 12-3 pm CST
October 12-13, 2018 12-3 pm CST
EMDR & Family Therapy Integrative Attachment Trauma Protocol (IATP-C) for Children

Training for EMDR and Non-EMDR Mental Health Practitioners

October 25-27, 2018
Hamilton, New Jersey

*Sponsored by the EMDR Institute*

During this 3-day in-person workshop, you will learn both the EMDR and Family Therapy components of this integrative model for treating children with a history of attachment trauma. You will leave with the skills and resources you need to implement the full protocol with the traumatized children and families in your practice.

EMDR Integrative Attachment Trauma Protocol (IATP-C) for Children
Training for EMDR Mental Health Practitioners

November 8-9, 2018
St. Louis, Missouri

*Sponsored by the EMDR Institute*
The Attachment Trauma Center Institute, LLC
638 North 109th Plaza, Omaha, NE 68154
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