Adoptees & Relational Trauma
What's "relational trauma"?
I use the term "relational trauma" to describe the impact of multiple placements, neglect or abuse by a caregiver, and institutionalized care (orphanage) experiences.
Kids with these experiences sometimes make slow or minimal progress in therapy, as most forms of therapy rely on the child's capacity to trust the therapist in a deep way. When a child has a history of relational trauma, sometimes trusting feels impossible.
Children with relational trauma can seem almost like “two different kids;” one kid rooted in the present and one kid stuck in the pain of the past. Your child may be successful at school, have friends, cuddle and talk with you about their day. At times they may be fully able to trust you and other safe adults.
At other times, they may struggle with some of the following:
Emotional and social immaturity
Defiance and oppositional behavior
Tantrums, rages, or destructive behavior
Hoarding and hiding food, binge eating
Stealing and lying
Seeming depressed, numb, or “spaced out”
Lack of cause-and-effect reasoning
Sexting or provocative behavior