This book chapter deals with approaches to treating children and adolescents exposed to trauma. It first addresses some of the ways that children, as opposed to adults, process traumatic experiences. Based on their developmental stage and the kind of traumatic event they've lived through, children experience a range of fears and anxieties during trauma and in its aftermath. The role of fantasy and imagination are especially important, but have often been overlooked by those who have researched child trauma, the authors note.
Helping children overcome the psychological damage that trauma can produce can occur in four therapeutic stages. Especially in the case of community violence or natural disasters, the school is a good setting for psychological first aid and therapeutic consultation. This aid and consultation address issues of death and loss and help relieve initial anxieties. Individual therapeutic assessment interviews can help those who have been exposed to severe trauma or life threat. These sessions can help children begin to process their experience and learn to cope with the strong emotions caused by trauma. Brief and long-term therapies allow the child and therapist to explore the deeper meaning of the trauma in the child's life on an ongoing basis.