Books and authors
Services for Authors
Social Media Networktest
Provides book reviews, by kids, for kids
Provides live author interviews for podcast
Provides interviews with experts in the publishing industry
Provides post-publication reviews
.: Reader Views
Provides book reviews and author publicity
Provides professional website design and development
Provides a place where writers and readers meet
Provides 5 books reviews on 10 different sites
Provides book reviews and author features
Provides Book Reviews via Book Blog
Provides book reviews and author features
interview with Marian K. Volkman
Children and Traumatic Incident Reduction: Creative and Cognitive Approaches
Edited by Marian K. Volkman
RebeccasReads is happy to welcome Marian Volkman, who will be talking about “Children and Traumatic Incident Reduction” a new book she has edited.
Marian Volkman has over thirty years of experience in trauma reduction and personal growth work. She leads Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) and Metapsychology workshops throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. She also sees individual clients in Ann Arbor, where she resides. She is the author of “Life Skills: Improve the Quality of Your Life with Metapsychology.”
RR: Welcome, Marian. “Children and Traumatic Incident Reduction” sounds like quite a book. You’ve brought together many different parents, educators, social workers, and therapists in compiling this book. Will you tell us how you went about contacting these people and getting them to contribute and how you found a place in the book for each of them?
MV: Thanks, well what all these people have in common, besides working with children is that they use Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR). They each bring their own experiences and talents to putting the effectiveness of TIR to work with the special population of children. We found these people through the TIR Association (www.tir.org) and they were very generous in sharing their knowledge.
RR: Marian, why do you feel this book is needed? What hole does it fill in the field of understanding trauma?
MV: Three answers for that question: First is that it shows how an especially effective method for adults is also applicable for children. Second, the book shows through a number of case stories how quickly and well children are able to work through quite horrific traumatic experiences if we give them a safe structure and method. Third, it gives specific methods for adapting such work to the needs and abilities of children.
RR: What specifically is important in understanding trauma suffered by children?
MV: A few things. One thing is that a loss experienced by a young child, such as the loss of a parent, may need to be re-grieved as the child passes through various developmental stages. We also need to understand:
That they feel things every bit as strongly as we do as adults
That they have a gift for going to the heart of the matter with less avoidance and resistance than adults usually experience
And that if we are able to facilitate their doing so, they will be able to lay down the burden, or a good part of it, of a traumatic event rather than carry it forward as a dark shadow over their lives.
MV: We cope with trauma according to our developmental level. One might write a whole book about that. To be brief, if we suffer a trauma at any age we quickly try to pull ourselves together. We “stuff” the memory of the trauma as best we can and go on. Of course that looks different for children and adults, but the end result is much the same. We end up carrying around the burden of that unresolved trauma.
RR: How does a child’s age affect his or her ability to recover from trauma? What different ways are used to treat trauma for different age groups?
MV: I’ll be so bold as to say that age doesn’t affect ability to recover at all! It is our job to meet them where they are developmentally and to find ways to work with them. In the book you’ll find some excellent ways of doing this. An outstanding example is the story of a child who had a life threatening illness over a period of time and from a very early age, necessitating traumatic medical procedures. The parents found ways, even before the child could talk, of engaging their child in what was going on and using methods that made the boy an active participant in what was happening. Brilliant and inspiring!
RR: Will you give us some more details in this case? What was the life threatening illness, and what ways did the parents use to engage the child and make him an active participant? What was the end result?
MV: The child was born with a congenital heart defect that necessitated several surgeries and other unpleasant treatments. His parents were brilliant at devising little repetitive games, what we call objective techniques, because they direct someone’s attention out onto the physical world—the here and now—rather than inward. One technique they devised was to let him create a strong effect by a little motion. This was during a long day of this little child being tethered by an IV, unable to move around or eat or anything. If he gave his mother a little tap she would act as if it had had a big effect on her, as if he had pushed her back, and would say each time, “So strong!” in an admiring voice. This delighted him and kept him interested and feeling that he had some power in his world instead of being at the mercy of his situation. There are a lot more suggestions in the book. It is excellent material for parents of children undergoing difficult medical treatment.
The short-term effect was that the little boy was happier during this period. Long term, he became a remarkably self-possessed young man who doesn’t manifest the effects of multiple severe traumas.
RR: What kinds of trauma are discussed in the book? What does the book use as its definition of trauma to determine what is actually traumatic?
MV: In the practice of TIR we work within a basically person-centered context, so you as the client declare what is a traumatic experience for you. That is to say, an experience that has had a lasting negative effect on you and that you would like to address in order to relieve the traumatic stress from it. All sorts of traumas are addressed here: loss of family members, sometimes through violence, neighborhood violence, trauma from serious illness and from medical treatment, you name it. For a child lucky enough to live in a safe place and never to have witnessed any actual violence, being chosen last while teams are being picked for baseball could be a deeply shaming experience that is a trauma in that child’s world.
RR: So trauma can result from something as common as a child’s schoolmates isolating or bullying him? I would think this type of trauma would be the most frequent. What methods would be used for a child to overcome this kind of trauma? Is it a matter of rebuilding the child’s self-esteem?
MV: Within the larger subject of Applied Metapsychology that TIR comes from, there are a lot of simple techniques that do help to rebuild someone’s self-esteem for sure. With Traumatic Incident Reduction what we see though is that the person arrives at a sense of mastery over what happened, simply by facing up to it without resistance. By going over an incident a number of times the client is able to develop the memory and see more clearly what happened. The pain and resistance come off, and the confusion. The traumatic memory becomes just another memory, without power to upset or bother that person.
RR: The book focuses a lot on repetitive verbal reproduction of the traumatic event. Why is the verbal aspect important, rather than a written one, or simply replaying the trauma over and over in one’s head?
MV: TIR has been used and refined for decades, and what we have found works best is for someone to go through a traumatic incident, usually silently, and then tell about it. I have worked with children doing it just this way, as have a number of my colleagues. With children, and some adults, they can stay more engaged if they talk all the way through the incident. It isn’t so much verbalization that is the key, but expression and being well-understood. For most of us, verbalizing something is the fastest and easiest way to express something. Drawing is another way and, especially for children, may be an easier way for them to feel they have clearly gotten across what is happening and to know that they are fully understood.
RR: In verbalizing what happened, are you seeking to recreate the event and then change the ending? To what degree is the trauma the result of, or at least allowed to remain powerful, because the child has not learned how to view the experience differently and change the end of the story?
MV: No, actually our work is not about changing the ending at all. While sometimes you will see someone spontaneously change the ending and be happy with that, generally what we are looking for and what we see is that the client, child or adult, reaches the point of being able to recount the event without having any bad feelings left about it at all.
With children we have to be very alert because they get through things faster than adults—not having so much history that can get tied into the incident they are addressing. Once they come through it and their attention comes off it, then that is the end. It’s important to let them have their success of facing that difficult memory and coming through it to the point where they no longer feel badly affected by it.
RR: “Children and Traumatic Incident Reduction” also focuses on the value of art therapy. Would you give us an example of a traumatic incident and how art therapy would be used to reduce the trauma?
MV: One example from the book shows the drawings a boy made while going through an incident of being stabbed by an older boy. Drawing serves a number of purposes here:
RR: How has treatment of trauma changed for children over the last several years? Were children in the past just told not to think about the situation?
MV: Sure, adults were told that too, not so very long ago. These days some good work is being done with children. What’s sad is when you see mental health professionals who underrate children’s ability to come to grips with difficult things that have happened to them. What I see as a real breakthrough represented by the work discussed in this book is honoring children’s capacity to dig in and get the work done when they have the safe space for it and the gentle guidance to do it. I’d like to emphasize that while it is great for therapists, in fact parents, educators and anyone who works with children can gain a lot of practical knowledge from reading the book.
RR: What about adults who suffered childhood trauma but repressed it? In some way, do they need to go back and imagine themselves as children to overcome their trauma, or are different therapies preferred for adults?
MV: One of the great things about TIR is that age doesn’t matter, nor does how long ago the trauma happened, as long at the client has the ability to focus well enough on the material and to express, either verbally or by drawing, what he or she is looking at. The method allows clients to work through traumas that have happened at any age. One question that sometimes comes up when we train therapists to use Traumatic Incident Reduction is that some think preverbal experiences cannot be worked with in this way. In fact, people can contact and re-experience incidents that happened when they were very young and before they could speak. They can re-experience the event silently and then tell about it afterwards.
RR: What do you feel makes “Children and Traumatic Incident Reduction” stand out? Have there been many books before about childhood trauma?
MV: Certainly there have been, and with the way the world is these days with violence in schools and so on I am sure we will be seeing a lot more books on this subject. I’m glad you asked that question because before I write or edit a book I want to be sure that it adds something to human knowledge. I learned a great deal from our wonderful contributors while working on this book, even though I have been using TIR in my work ever since it was first developed in the early 80s. What I learned was that even children as young as five years old have the capacity to do this work and benefit from it greatly. I also learned much more than I knew before about using art therapy with children, in conjunction with TIR.
RR: Marian, if a child has undergone trauma, what is the first step the parents should take in helping the child to deal with the trauma?
MV: Listen, without judging or adding anything to the child’s experience. I’ve heard Renee Carmody, a contributor to the book and a marvelous therapist, tell of a little girl who was badly abused by her mom’s boyfriend. The child’s father came to pick her up and take her back to the town where he lived and Renee advised him just to listen to his daughter’s story if the opportunity arose. It was evening as they were driving back and dark outside and the little girl was in the back seat. She started telling everything that had happened and the father just listened, as he had been told. He later told Renee that it was a good thing it was dark and his daughter was in the back seat because his tears were flowing silently as she told him everything. If she had seen him crying she probably wouldn’t have kept on talking. The child was greatly relieved for being able to talk as long as she wanted about what had happened to her.
Many parents know that they are not able to pull this off, and/or the child is going to need more help in some cases. Then it’s time to seek out a practitioner who is experienced and skilled in working with children, someone who preferably works in a client-centered way.
RR: What about parents whose child may be embarrassed or afraid to talk about the trauma, even to the point of not telling the parents he or she has experienced a traumatic incident? What warning signs will make parents realize their child needs to seek help?
MV: In my experience children talk about these things readily, or will draw what happened and explain their drawings. If children feel safe, they will express themselves freely. That is why it’s sometimes better to get some outside help. If children fear upsetting their parents they may stop themselves from talking about an event, or if they fear being punished for saying something.
Any time you see a big change in behavior or mood you need to suspect that something has happened. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so when in doubt, consult with a professional person you trust.
RR: Thank you for joining RebeccasReads today, Marian. Will you let our readers know where they can go online to find out more information about “Children and Traumatic Incident Reduction”?
MV: Thanks for having me! To find the book and read more about it, check out www.tirbook.com
powered by FreeFind
|Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255
Copyright © RebeccasReads
RebeccasReads website design by LR Communication Design