Creating a Trauma Narrative
A trauma narrative is the re-creation or retracing of the child’s actual or imagined experience of the traumatic circumstances of a death as told in their own words, pictures, and even songs.
Developing a trauma narrative is an important component of treatment for traumatic grief. A child experiencing traumatic grief develops the trauma narrative jointly with a therapist through a series of carefully guided questions. The initial trauma narrative may be brief, but it provides anchor points that can be used in discussion to help the child elaborate on the details.
Children with traumatic grief typically avoid reminders of details associated with the death because they cause overwhelming and upsetting thoughts and feelings. By confronting such feelings in a safe and controlled environment, while also using the stress-reducing strategies and coping skills previously learned, children are better able to tolerate trauma-related thoughts and feelings about the death.
By creating the story, the child is carefully exposed to the traumatic elements and gradually becomes able to tolerate the more painful and disturbing aspects of the experience. Sample trauma narratives are included in the Courage to Remember materials.
Visit NCTSN’s Web site for more details.