Trauma, Brain and Relationship Helping Children Heal
From NEURONS TO NEIGHBORHOODS
Second Annual Conference
Interview with Brian Post, Ph.D.
DR. POST, FOR REFERENCE COULD YOU GIVE ME A VERBAL IDENTIFICATION OF YOURSELSF, YOUR TITLE AND YOUR WEB SITE?
Yes, I'm Dr. Bryan Post. I'm the founder of the Post Institute for Family Centered Therapy. That's www.postinstitute.com.
WHERE ARE YOU CENTERED?
We are based in Oklahoma, but I serve families worldwide. I specialize in in-home therapy.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE FAMILY IN THE TREATMENT OF DEALING WITH TRAUMA.
It is essential to treat the entire family when healing trauma in children. Without healing the trauma of the family and creating awareness for the family, you can't help the child.
WHY IS THAT?
Families have to create an environment to allow the healing for children to occur through experiences, through positive, meaningful experiences.
TELL ME HOW YOUR PRACTICE COMPLEMENTS THIS THEORY.
I go into the homes of families and work with the entire family, starting with the parents, and I work to address the generational and intergenerational transmission of trauma. Ninety-eight percent of the families I work with, the parents have had a history of trauma themselves. Before I work with the children, I create an environment for the parents to be able to provide a healing environment for the child.
IS THAT WHY YOU GO INTO THE HOME AS OPPOSED TO HAVING THEM COME TO YOUR OFFICE?
I go into the homes to work with them because I see so many more dynamics in working in the home setting, as opposed to working into the office, to see all the inner workings between the family members, which you just don't see in an office setting.
HOW IMPORTANT ARE THE PARENTS IN THE TREATMENT OF THE HEALING OF TRAUMA?
Parents are essential in the treatment of healing trauma in children. Parents are crucial to the healing of trauma in children because 98, I believe that 98, percent of the parents who have children who have been traumatized have also been traumatized themselves. So healing the parents' trauma first allows them to create an environment for the healing of their child's trauma.
IS THERE ONE THING THAT PARENTS CAN DO TO HELP THEIR TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN?
There's one thing, I believe, that's as important as anything for helping parents to heal trauma in their children, and that is the awareness that there are only two primary emotions-love and fear. Anger is not a primary emotion. Anger is an underlying seed of fear. And that which does not look loving comes from fear. And by seeing fear in children's behavior, it helps us address them from a different perspective.
DR.POST, WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY SEEING FEAR IN CHILDREN'S BEHAVIOR, BUT NOT AS ITS PRIMARY EMOTION? HOW DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THAT DIFFERENCE?
Fear is primary. Anger is not primary. By seeing anger instead of fear, we're focusing on something different. When we look at the undercurrents of anger as fear, then we can see our children as being fearful rather than just angry. When you can see a child as being scared as opposed to angry, you will respond to them in a completely different way.
WHAT IS THE PRIMARY TOOL THAT PARENTS CAN USE TO HELP TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN? WHAT IS THE UNDERSTANDING THE PARENTS MUST HAVE IN ORDER TO HELP HEAL THEIR TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN?
I believe that one of the single greatest understandings that parents need in the healing of trauma in their children is to realize that trauma creates frightened children, children who live in a state of fear. And that state of fear will drive their behavior. Even when we perceive their behavior to be angry or manipulative or controlling, we have to realize that trauma creates fear, and rather than focusing on those behaviors, we focus on the child's fear, and soothing that fear, rather than changing those behaviors.
WHAT UNDERSTANDING MUST PARENTS HAVE IN ORDER TO HELP THEIR TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN?
I believe that one of the single greatest understandings parents can have in helping heal trauma in their children is to realize that the trauma experience creates a frightened child. And so behaviors that children display from their trauma are actually behaviors that are based in fear. Anger, control, manipulation are all behaviors that have an underlying element of fear. And so for parents to address the fear and soothe the fear, rather than focusing on all the other behaviors, I believe is the single best understanding that they can have.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH DR. POST.
(END OF INTERVIEW)
Stan Tatkin, Psy.D. - Psychotherapist
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