In order to support their children's recovery, parents of traumatized children need support themselves. Especially in cases where children have been victims of or witnesses to family or community violence, parents may be victims as well. Many parents also have a history of trauma-as adults, as children, or both-which may make them less able to cope with the needs of their children. This article reviews the literature on providing interventions and treatment for traumatized children and their parents. It also presents an account of how the Violence Intervention Program for Children and Families (VIP) in New Orleans worked with one parent and child.
Posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD, depression, and anxiety can limit parents' ability to be effective caregivers for their children. They may be less able to understand and alleviate their children's distress in light of their own psychological problems. When these problems go untreated, parent and child may be caught in a cycle that simply reinforces the problems in them both. There are a variety of interventions that can break this cycle. First, clinicians must carefully assess both parent and child, to gain a clear understanding of their trauma history and current functioning. Individual therapy, dyadic therapy-meaning with both parent and child-referrals to community support, and case management services are among the techniques that VIP uses in its work. This kind of approach is especially important in environments where there are barriers to treatment and many outside stressors-violence, poverty, and despair. Community agencies, clinicians, child welfare professionals, and law enforcement can work together, as they have in VIP, to serve families whose needs are so great.