relationship and emotional trauma: an on-line video for helping children heal
Healing Trauma. Attachment, Mind, Body, and Brain in which the social environment, including relationships of childhood, adulthood, and the treatment milieu. Trauma, Brain and Relationship Helping Children Heal New Ways to Prevent and Heal Emotional Trauma in Children and Adults .. So even though this video is meant to try and teach a little bit about how the brain develops and about how. Feb 28, Trauma, Brain and Relationship: Helping Children Heal. sbgiinfo. Loading. Comments are disabled for this video. Autoplay When autoplay is.
When there are positive relationships, there literally are physiological changes in the person's brain and in their body that make them more physically, emotionally and socially at risk.
When you look at someone, when you hear someone, when you have a conversation, when you make a joke with somebody, when you touch someone, every single one of those physical interactions are translated into patterned neuronal activity that go into the brain of both people in that interaction and result in positive changes. These physical changes influence our immune system and they influence the autonomic nervous system that controls your heart and your lungs and your gut.
Literally, when people have a wealth of relationships, where relationships are present in high quantities and they're of good quality, these individuals are actually physically healthier, they're emotionally healthier, they're more cognitively enriched, and they actually reach their potential to be humane in ways that are impossible without relationships. It's a very interesting thing that people don't really appreciate this very much, but that there's no better biological interaction that you can have than a relationship.
It's much more of a biological intervention to form a relationship with someone in therapy than it is to give him or her a pill. Relationships are the absolute heart of humanity, and we are neurobiologically designed to be in relationships. We are neurobiologically designed to be able to read and respond to other people and we're neurobiologically designed to reach out and seek relationships with other people.
When we have these opportunities to form healthy relationships with family, with neighbors, with coworkers, with members of the community, we're healthy. When we don't have those opportunities, we literally are physiologically at risk. Well, it's a very interesting thing that this is cutting edge in the sense that it's rediscovering something that has been part of the cumulative wisdom of many cultures for many years. Independent of what we know about how the brain works, people have known that it's healthy to have extended family around, that it's healthy to know your neighbors, that it's healthy to have an investment in community and have relationships.
We've known this, and we have lots of evidence from research that's nonbiological that supports this idea. Now that we're learning about how the brain works and we have techniques to actually look at how the brain functions, we're kind of acting like this is a big revelation, this is a big surprise, that there are parts of our brain that are able to read and respond to facial cues, that there are parts of our brain that actually give us pleasure in context of human interactions.
However, none of that should be surprising, because all of the history of our ancestors and all of the other successful living models that we have seen, both in our current era and throughout history, have depended upon relationships.
Nadine Burke Harris: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime | TED Talk
And I think that it's perceived as something new and cutting edge, because we folded in some of the biology and some of the neuroscience.
But in fact, we're only saying things that have been said for many, many generations. What has been unique about the work that our group has done has been the combination of basic neuroscience and developmental neuroscience with clinical mental health work.
Previously there were very few people who did a lot of clinical work that knew a lot about brain development, and the people that did really excellent work in brain development really didn't know much about these clinical issues. In the last, I'd say, decade, there have been more and more people like myself who have been trained in both the neurosciences and in clinical areas, and we've seen that these are complementing and interfacing areas.
There are certain insights about the human condition that you can gather by understanding how the brain works and how the brain develops and how the brain changes. It helps us understand better how to educate children, how to raise children in healthy environments, how to understand mental health problems, how to minimize distress and trauma during development and what positive changes can come from that.
So to some degree, it's not as if it's really new information, but it's a new perspective. We're looking at a lot of the same issues and using some of the same information we've always known, but we're putting it together in a somewhat different perspective.
Well, one of the most important things about human beings is that we literally invent things about the way we live. So the nuclear family, for example, is an invention. We are for It's only been in the last few thousand years that we've lived in these smaller and smaller and smaller family groups in larger and larger urban areas.
And, ironically enough, the more people we get into an urban area, the more isolated the individual becomes.
Our family sizes become smaller. We've compartmentalized our culture so that we've taken the elderly and we've thrown them out of the lives of our families. We keep children with children. We have done a whole number of things to act in ways that we think are efficient but turn out to be tremendously biologically disrespectful. And the consequence is that we're raising our children in a world where there's poverty of relationships. Children are having at least one-fourth as many opportunities when they grow up to interact with people as they were two decades ago.
We're taking 30 percent of the day and we're filling it with electronic interactions with television that don't involve human interaction. We are creating artificial human interactions in our schools where we have ratios of one adult to 30 children. We are in our homes having our own bedrooms and we're not having family meals, we're not spending time with neighbors, we're not spending time with extended families. So we've tremendously compartmentalized our world and decreased opportunities to have relationships, which as we've discussed, are the absolute heart of a humane person.
And we're seeing the manifestation of this in all of our high-risk populations. The problems in schools that we're seeing now, disrespect, impulsiveness, aggression, are much worse than they were two decades ago.
Bruce Perry: Attachment and Developmental Trauma | "Don't Try This Alone"
The number of children who meet criterion for special education has been skyrocketing. The number of children that have severe mental health problems has been increasing. The number of children who are in the child protective system has been increasing. Every single one of our high-risk groups is getting bigger, and the resources we have to address their problems are getting smaller. And I believe that a big part of this is because the entire curve is shifting, that what were once considered normal behaviors are considered exceptional.
What were once considered inappropriate and abnormal behaviors are the norm. And so that what we used to be dealing with this little 5 percent of the curve over here, this small group of kids that had high-risk problems, well now that's a much bigger group. The problems that used to be considered worthy of the attention of the system, the mental health system, the special education system, we can't even address those, because we have all these really severely disturbed kids. I mean one of the great things about this recent early childhood focus and the public awareness campaigns, trying to help people understand more about the importance of early childhood and high quality childcare and how the brain develops is that more and more people are becoming aware of the fact that if we provide excellent, high quality early life experiences, we have a tremendous head start on creating a healthy human being.
Because the brain develops so rapidly early in life, it means that 85 percent of the foundational neurobiological systems that we use for our whole life are created and organized in the first five years of life. So, if we invest time in the lives of children when they're young, and we are respectful and we are present and we make sure that they have a wealth of relationships, so they get cognitive enrichment and social enrichment and emotional enrichment, that means that we'll have a tremendous head start on solving a lot of these problems.
Until we remedy the mismatch between opportunity and investment, between the time when the brain is most easily changed and where we're spending all of our public dollars, we're never going to solve this problem. We're spending literally 95 percent of our public dollars to change the brain, because that's what mental health is, that's what public education is, that's what juvenile justice intervention is, all of these are trying to change the brain.
We're spending 95 percent of our dollars on children at a time when their brain is much harder to modify. We're spending almost nothing in the first five years of life when the brain is easiest to modify and it takes the least amount of professional input, the least amount of insight. It takes just high quality caregiving during the early years of life. If you really want to understand how a child is functioning in the present, you need to understand their personal history because the brain more than anything is an historical organ.
If you understand the personal experiences of the child, you will understand a lot about how different systems in the brain are organized. So it's very important to take a high quality developmental history of that child.
One of the most important factors in a good developmental history is getting some understanding and some insights about the childrearing beliefs and practices of their caregiver, which you can usually get by asking them about their family and the way they were raised. The brain is a relatively complex organ, but it has a very sensible and simple organization. From the bottom to the top, it goes from simple to complex. The bottom part of the brain, the brainstem, is important for regulating heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature regulation, and it is the one part of the brain that has to be developed by the time you're born- because obviously you have to regulate your respirations and your heart rate and body temperature.
So, in utero, the intrauterine environment and things that happen in utero are going to shape and influence how well regulated the brainstem is. Now it turns out that the brainstem plays a major role in organizing these higher parts of the brain. So if the brainstem is well organized, and it's smoothly regulated, it means that after birth the child is going to be easier to soothe. On the other hand, if the brainstem, for whatever reason, it has some insult during development-it could be alcohol exposure in utero, cigarette smoking, prenatal exposure to drug or significant distress in the caregiver-for whatever reason, if the brainstem is poorly organized and over reactive and dissynchronous, the baby's born and very often they will have what we call a state regulation problem.
They are hard to soothe, you can't quiet them down very well, it's hard to engage them, and it makes the caregivers feel overwhelmed. That leads to kind of a fractured maternal infant interaction, which can then have this whole cascade of negative effects. The caregiver doesn't feel very competent, they can't calm the child down very well, and the child stays all stirred up.
Instead of having this smooth, synchronous interaction, you have kind of this bad fit. It leads to problems with normal social emotional development. When we first came out and started to talk about the probability that a traumatic experience literally changed the physical organization of the brain, there were a lot of people that were somewhat skeptical.
But in the last ten years or so, there have been more and more studies where we've been able to look at not just brain-related factors like heart rate and cortisal release and other external physiological things, we've literally been able to look at the brain. What we've seen is that children who have been exposed to traumatic experiences have a host of abnormalities in the way key parts of their brain are organized and the way they function.
So the whole idea that trauma changes the brain is now commonly accepted. The next step, of course, is can therapy and therapeutic experiences that you provide change the brain in ways that would link to recovery of function or repair following trauma. That research is ongoing, and it is less evolved than this other research, but I'm convinced that the biological principles are the same.
Trauma, Brain and Relationship: Helping Children Heal | ACEsConnection
The brain changes with activity. We know that all parts of the brain throughout almost all ages of life can change, given the right opportunities and the right experiences.
I'm convinced that over time people will begin to see that you have a child who has had a traumatic experience and they'll see one sort of abnormality in the brain. Then as a function of certain kinds of therapeutic interventions, you'll start to see changes in those parts of the brain and recovery of function.
On one hand it's absolutely logical. You cannot get changes in function unless the brain changes. I mean it's not your pancreas.
Bruce Perry: Attachment and Developmental Trauma
So if you see functional improvement in the child following therapeutic intervention, it's got to be the brain. Now we just have to sort of prove it. There's no other explanation. The next step is to investigate and know exactly which systems in the brain are going to be changed.
This fact is also based on brain imaging research that reveals the tremendous plasticity of the brain -particularly in the first five years of life.
Unfortunately, the pressure of urban life greatly reduces opportunities for the kind of relationships that prevent and heal trauma in children. During the first five years of life, a child's brain remains extraordinarily plastic and amenable to recovery from trauma. Unfortunately, ninety-five percent of public funds are spent on children after the age of five when it is more difficult and expensive to affect change.
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We recommend a broad band connection for viewing the video clips. The Very First Relationship 3: When children feel "seen," safe and supported, their nervous systems develop in a very coherent manner; but if they don't feel safe and connected in their primary relationships, their brains develop in a disrupted way. Click here to view in QuickTime format. Brain Development at Risk 1: Many of these experiences go undetected.
The Many Faces of Trauma 3: The undisruptive responses of anxious and self-absorbed children are often missed or ignored. These often "quiet" or "good" children manifest problems that can be even more serious than those of disruptive children. Relationship Induced Trauma 2: Most parents of traumatized children are themselves traumatized and are relationally insecure. When these parents learn to see their behavior from the perspective of the child, they can repair the relationship and heal their child.
It also requires caregivers to become sensitive to the child's sensory reactions. When we know or suspect that a child has been traumatized, we can help children communicate their distress both with and without words.
The quality of eye contact, facial expression, posture, gesture, timing and intensity of response can soothe even a child too young for words. You Make the Difference 5: Even when a child has a poor relationship with a primary caretaker, if that child has as few as one secure relationship with another adult, childcare or daycare provider, there is hope for healing the brain. What makes children recover from emotional trauma are other human beings who are kind, patient, sensitive and supportive.
Featured in the video are: He is also the Senior Fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy, a Houston-based organization dedicated to research and education on child maltreatment.
Perry's work has been instrumental in describing how traumatic events in childhood change the biology of the brain.