According to a national survey of children’s health, 1 in 4 Missouri children aged 0-17 has experienced at least one traumatic event such as a death of a loved one, witnessing community violence, abuse or neglect.
If left unaddressed, trauma can negatively impact the brain development and physical health of a child and create life-long effects. They can develop post-traumatic stress responses including sadness, anger, a decline in schoolwork, changes in sleep or eating habits just to name a few symptoms can harm psychical and mental development. When these issues interfere with living a healthy life, support from a mental health professional is necessary to help treat the issues and reduce the impact of the trauma.
Armed with this information, Niles integrated trauma-informed care into its treatment services to better help youth understand and heal from trauma. According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “any trauma-informed approach should realize the wide-spread impact of trauma and understand potential paths for recovery, recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma, fully integrate knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices and seek to actively resist re-traumatization.”
Trauma Systems Therapy is a trauma-informed, research-based approach that identifies trauma in youth and works to strategically identify ecological strengths and natural supports to foster resilience for the youth.
“Trauma Systems Therapy is integrated into all aspects of treatment at Niles,” said Shannon Hallauer, L.P.C. Director of Clinical Services at Niles. “Each employee is trained to engage with children through a trauma-informed lens, which ultimately creates a safe environment for children to grow both psychologically and neurologically.”
With a trauma-informed approach, a child’s treatment is focused on stabilization, practicing emotion regulation and cognitive processing skills, and identifying resources to support the children as they transition back to their home community.
Every child responds to trauma differently. They may withdraw, become physically or verbally aggressive, have difficulty forming healthy relationships, struggle in school or make unhealthy choices. It’s important to train every adult involved in the child’s life so that they can help the child cope with their triggers and behaviors in a trauma-informed way.
“We understand that children who have experienced trauma and adversity may display maladaptive emotional responses, especially when experiencing heightened emotional states,” said Hallauer. “We strive to be a safe environment where they can begin to process trauma and move beyond their difficult experiences in a healthy way.”
If you know a youth who has experienced trauma and is struggling to cope, experiencing mental health issues or exhibiting challenging behavior, contact Niles at (816) 895-4299 or fill out this form for more information.