Child Trauma and Bullying Counseling and Therapy

Child Trauma and Bullying Therapy

Lasting relief from trauma requires a comprehensive approach involving the whole family. Our trauma informed therapy with first responders better informs our work with civilians.

Understanding you and your Childs Trauma–our therapists can help you through.

It can be difficult to learn that a child has experienced a trauma. We as parents try to do our best to protect our kids from danger, and yet it happens regardless of our wishes. In an ideal world, no child would experience a trauma,  but unfortunately for a sizable number of children it has become a typical event.

Because so few people openly talk about traumas that they or their children have experienced, many more people than you think in your own life likely have been wrestling with the effects of trauma for some time. While many people find their own ways to cope, a growing number are talking openly about their experiences and seeking help. At Acuity, we take the tools and tips that we present to traumatized first responders and we are able to adapt it to our work with children and adult civilians.

Just as we approach trauma in adults, trauma in children isn’t just limited to the most extreme cases of traumatic events such as child abuse. Children can be traumatized by any number of events that overwhelm their ability to cope with daily life. 

Contact us to schedule an appointment or ask a question:

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Child Trauma can be many things:

  • Neglect
  • Psychological, physical or sexual abuse
  • Witnessing or experiencing community or school violence (traffic accidents, local tragedies) 
  • Life threatening illness diagnosis
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Parental separation – injury, deployment, divorce, abandonment
  • Bullying

Possible Effects of Childhood Trauma:

  • Academic struggles
  • Other mental health struggles such as anxiety, and depression
  • Behavioral issues including criminal convictions
  • Stress induced long term health issues: hypertension, obesity, heart disease
  • Substance use

When you expand trauma to the scope that we do at Acuity, you can estimate that around ⅔ of children cope with a trauma before they turn 16. [1]

The effect that trauma has on the development of young minds can be very significant if left unaddressed. Oftentimes, children don’t think clearly about the event after the fact and tend to have a few cognitive distortions around the experience. A common thought distortion is “I deserved it” and if unchallenged, children that believe this can develop low self esteem. Low self esteem contributes to a large number of struggles personally, academically and socially.

Is Trauma being caused by bullying in childhood?

The most common type of trauma that students experience (in sheer number) is bullying. To some extent it is healthy for kids to push and prod each other to learn about boundaries, emotional limits and the consequences for crossing either. In some cases this can escalate to persistent bullying.

    Why does bullying happen to kids? Bullying is part lack of empathy from other kids (which as a parent you can’t directly deal with), and low self esteem in the bullied.

    Let’s be clear that we don’t blame the bullied kid for getting bullied, but self esteem and bullying act in a cycle. A child with low self esteem doesn’t push back against bullying because they agree with what the bullies say to some extent. Bullies take advantage of this and push more, in turn reducing the child’s self esteem, and so on. 

    During a divorce too, if there is a lot of fighting between parents. Kids can internalize that. When children are young they are deeply attached to their parents, so when they see parents fight they internalize that. If they think parents hate each other they can begin to hate themselves. As children grow into teens this becomes less of a dynamic, but still has an effect to some extent.

    Common types of bullying that children face:

     

    • Physical bullying – harm to the child of things they own and care about
    • Verbal bullying – taunts, threats, etc.
    • Relationship bullying – Spreading rumors and group exclusion
    • Cyberbullying – aggression sent over phone, email, video games.

    ______

    Bullying can also imitate what is happening in the house or in the family. Not necessarily violence against each other, but watching parents smear each other shows kids that doing that same thing at school is okay.

    ______

    Cyberbullying and Child Trauma

    Cyberbullying takes what used to be bullying limited to certain hours at school and turns it into a 24/7 issue. When kids can’t even take a break from the bullying it can wear them down dramatically.

    We have seen an increase in our practice of cyberbullying over video games like fortnite or roblox. Often the anonymity and physical distance between children playing these games gives kids license to be as mean as they want without seeing the consequences.

    It’s common for parents to come to us saying: 

    ‘I walk by when my son is playing Fortnite and I hear all these vile and mean things. How should I treat this?’

    Many parents jump to judge that their child is causing issues without really understanding why they are being so aggressive and what it means to their friends. Some playful taunting that you expect to see in in-person sports can happen online and that’s okay.

    However, if your child’s words will harm more than help their friend or their friend’s parent, they should reconsider what they say online. Kids across the country are being suspended for threatening others online, talk to your kid about news like this, let them know that a silly comment can have big consequences. You can also set limits such as making sure that your child only plays with kids that he can play nicely with. Like with our work on behavior management, we recommend that the rules you set are clear and enforced evenly.

    Social Media and Trauma

    Social media provides a major source of bullying in the life of modern children (especially teens). We recommend watching “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix in order to see first hand the effects of social media on the teens shown in the docudrama. It depicts a family struggling with the effects of social media. Teens struggle with putting their ‘best self forward’ and judging their worth based on how many likes they get. A few mean comments on these daily ritual posts stand out for the rest of the week. We see similar struggles in our work with teens almost universally. 

    Though it can feel like an extra job it can be helpful for parents to follow their child on social media closely (see: set up alerts for specific posts) to keep tabs on any bullying situations as they develop. It can be nice to nip these in the bud and prevent your child from internalizing negative interactions. 

    The Acuity Approach to Therapy for Child Trauma and Bullying

    The core of our approach to trauma is to help children reinterpret the event that caused the trauma, and to analyze the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that came from that.

    In order to get clients to rethink negative thoughts surrounding trauma (“it was my fault”) we deconstruct and reconstruct the personal trauma.

    Of course younger kids don’t respond well to sitting on a couch and talking things out, they prefer to play. So we combine play and art therapy with our trauma informed approaches (such as trauma focused CBT and EMDR) for best results. We’ve found that triggering the creative side of a child’s brain better brings the emotional side of their brain out as well. Once we can let children talk in the language they are comfortable with, we are best able to help.

    What Parents Can Do:

    • Make sure that your child feels safe now. Explain how they are protected and what to do when they feel unsafe
    • Don’t shame or guilt the child, try to make it clear that experiencing a traumatic event isn’t their fault. Be open and honest with them around this.
    • Set clear limits

    If you child is able to talk about their life and the events in it, start with talking to them regarding bullying at school. Get to know what form the bullying is taking at school. Ask how they feel about what is happening. What do they think about the bullies? Do they believe what the bullying is saying about them?

    Throughout this process be empathetic and reassuring, don’t make the incident smaller than it is, let them know that you think this is serious. Let them know that bullying is wrong. Period.

    Next make a plan. Discuss with your child what to do if something like this happens again. Also let your child know what you will do personally. Make it clear that how they react changes how the situation develops.

    Overall, be sure to educate your child about bullying, what it looks like, what it means and how it happens. Many children (and parents) think of bullying as between one bully and one victim, but really bullying takes a systematic approach. A significant part of bullying is the ‘bystander effect’ the kids who stand by and don’t act. Talking with your child about what to do when they see others being bullied is an important part of creating an anti-bullying culture and behavior.

    FAQ for Child Trauma and Bullying Therapy

    How can Trauma Therapy help my children?

    Anxiety therapy can help you learn to manage your trauma symptoms differently, giving them coping skills and real life strategies for interrupting the negative cycle of worry and out of control thoughts.

    Which therapist is right for me?

    Let us help you find the right therapist. Many of our therapists specialize in anxiety, so view our profiles online to learn more about specific counselors specializing in anxiety treatment or speak with our Client Care Coordinator, who can help you with a personalized match to the right therapist for your needs. 

    Finding the RIGHT therapist is the most important piece of reaching your goals.

    How long does Therapy take?

    Counseling works best within the framework of a safe and trusted therapeutic alliance. Since it takes time to build this relationship with your therapist, we recommend committing to weekly sessions for at least 8 weeks. Research shows that consistency adds to the positive outcomes of therapy. Once you reach your 8-week goal, you and your therapist can discuss a frequency of sessions that will support your continued success.

    I’ve never done therapy before...What can I expect in my sessions?

    The unknown of anything new can make it scary. Especially if you’ve never been to counseling before. Let us show you the “roadmap” so you know what to expect:

    1st Session:
    This first meeting is an introduction for both you and your counselor. Your therapist will explain the therapy process and go over the specifics of informed consent. From there, your therapist will gather additional information about your history, current circumstances, as well as struggles and personal strengths, which will help them to define a treatment plan that aligns with your goals. 

    This is also the chance for you to learn more about your therapist. We encourage you to ask questions and get to know them; the relationship you build with your therapist will be the most important part of your work together. 

    2nd Session and Future sessions:
    In your weekly sessions, you and your therapist will use evidenced based therapies such as CBT, Mindfulness or ACT, to help you address your symptoms of worry, stress and anxiety. For anxiety rooted in trauma, or related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), your therapist may recommend treatment with EMDR.

    Closing Sessions:
    Our goal is for you to find relief from your anxiety and be ready to “graduate” from therapy. In the last few sessions with your therapist, you will review your initial goals, the progress you have made, and solidify your new skills for managing anxiety in your life. At your last meeting together, you’ll have the time for the meaningful goodbye with your therapist.

    How much does Anxiety Counseling cost?

    We strive to create access to high quality mental healthcare for everyone. Our therapists’ rates vary by experience and specialized training. We will make every effort to find the right therapist for you. 

    Acuity Counseling also accepts health insurance and offers both in-network and out-of-network coverage. 

    We are in-network partners with: 

    Aetna

    Cigna

    First Choice

    Premera Blue Cross

    * We do not participate in EAP plans

    Why don’t you only use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

    While we use CBT as an aspect of our therapeutic approaches, we know that every individual is different. No one responds to any method perfectly, so by employing many techniques we are able to provide the most personalized support. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is talked about in relation to mental health so often because it has a large body of research behind it and is easy to replicate across all cases. This is why you may hear it called “evidence based,” which it certainly is. However, we use other evidence based therapies in conjunction with CBT in our therapies.

    How can I evaluate whether therapy is working?

    Acuity is unique because we use research backed questionnaires to assess your mood, goals and progress. From time to time we may share with you your progress on these reports, “you report being angry 30% less days than when you started therapy,” and then ask what your goals for the future may be. We have found that by having clients set their own goals and following up regularly we can achieve better results.

    If I go to Acuity for help, does it mean there is something wrong with me?

    No. We try to break this stigma constantly.

    Many people come to Acuity just to gain a better perspective of themselves and work on some issues that they are having in their daily life. There aren’t many places for people to vent and seek honest help, so we provide that space for people as well as psychologically informed advice to better cope with life’s persistent problems. Even if you have a mental health diagnosis there is nothing wrong with you. We all experience and react to the world in different ways, it’s hard to argue that there is anything wrong with that.

    Is medication used in conjunction with your therapy?

    Some conditions for some people are best treated with the help of medication. If we find it necessary after our initial assessments, we will discuss types of medication, your comfort with it, and the pros and cons of medication with you. If you so choose, we can refer you to the appropriate psychopharmacologist in the area. If you are already on medication, we will coordinate treatment with your primary provider.

    How long does therapy take?

    Counseling works best within the framework of a safe and trusted therapeutic alliance. Since it takes time to build this relationship with your therapist, we recommend committing to weekly sessions for at least 8 weeks. Research shows that consistency adds to the positive outcomes of therapy. Once you reach your 8-week goal, you and your therapist can discuss a frequency of sessions that will support your continued success.

    Break-free and begin your journey to

    Your best
    YOU.

    There is a future life where trauma does not control your day. Imagine yourself feeling calm, confident and ready to handle new situations with ease. The tools to living the life you have always envisioned are here, at your fingertips.

    Acuity Counseling can help.

     

    Schedule your therapy session online

    Reach out directly to our Client Care Coordinator for questions, matching, and scheduling:

    Online Counseling

    Our services are also available online through Zoom. Telehealth/Online counseling gives you the opportunity to explore your challenges in life without complicating your daily schedule.

    GET STARTED

    If you have questions and would like to talk about any of our counseling services, please reach out for a complimentary phone consultation or send us an email.

    First Session Within 72 Hours of Calling

    We book you an appointment within 24 hours of contacting us (usually less) and make sure your first appointment is soon after.

    Seattle: 206-922-2376

    Bellevue: 425-549-3242

    Bothell/Woodinville: 206-910-9476

    info@acuitycounseling.net

    for Billing questions call:
    206-910-9476

     

    SCHEDULING

    Use our Online Scheduling Tool or call our office to schedule your appointment, or for any changes regarding scheduling.

    Schedule by phone: 206-910-9476

    INSURANCE

    Counseling services are often covered in full or in part by your health insurance company. Acuity Counseling proudly accepts most major health insurance plans.

    Aetna

    First Choice

    HMA

    Meritain

    Cigna

    GEHA

    Sound Health & Wellness

    We do not participate
    in EAP Plans

    Acuity Counseling Locations

    Seattle

    Bellevue

    Bothell/Woodinville

    BELLEVUE, WA
    Cascade Place II
    12729 Northup Way, Suite 6
    Bellevue WA 98005
    (206) 910-9476

    SEATTLE, WA
    Plaza 600 Building
    600 Stewart St, Suite 1228
    Seattle WA 98101
    (206) 910-9476

    BOTHELL/WOODINVILLE
    Falcon View
    12900 NE 180th St, Suite 160
    Bothell, WA 98011
    (206) 910-9476

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