Amanda*, a mother of two children, Ross*, aged 8 and Michael*, aged 12 had experienced psychological, financial and emotional abuse from her husband of twelve years. Amanda separated from her husband eight months prior to commencing with the Building Resilience in Children Project. Upon initial engagement, in the first therapy session, Amanda presented with very high anxiety which was reflected in her fast paced speech, forgetfulness, tense muscles and rapid eye movement. Amanda also had difficulty breathing. Amanda, at this point, held no awareness of her heightened anxiety.

Whilst developing the client’s therapeutic support plan, Amanda informed the caseworker that she had no identity outside of being trauma impacted. Amanda spoke of holding no awareness of what boundaries were, which was very concerning for her given that she would not be able to identify if the next relationship would be safe or not. Amanda also held concerns for her children, noting that her youngest son, Ross, was becoming harder to manage, with angry oppositional behaviour which had a significant impact on the client. Michael, the eldest son, had witnessed his dad attempting to commit suicide and had been exposed to verbal and psychological abuse, resulting in appearing very flat and disconnected from both parents.

Amanda held significant concerns for her children, noting that she did not have the tools she needed to connect with them which made communication about what was going on for them and for herself very difficult.

Amanda began her BRIC process commencing in the six week Healing Connections therapeutic group which focuses on themes such as attachment, inter-generational trauma, and the neurobiology of trauma from the perspective of the impact of abuse on child brain development. Upon commencement of the group the client could not only recognise the trauma impacts within herself but also the behaviours which she had characterised as “aggressive” and “problematic” within her children she could now characterise this as trauma impacted behaviours.

Underneath it all the children felt very unsafe. Through the combination of both the individual therapeutic sessions and the group content, the client now had both the awareness and tools to self regulate her own trauma symptoms. This became an integral change in the way in which she could now connect with her own children through not only understanding their behaviour but also now giving her children the skills to become aware of what was happening in their bodies and how to communicate this change to their parent – in effect co-regulation, leading to a significant reduction in the trauma impact of both child and parent.

Engaging in the eight-week Circle of Security attachment focused group brought renewed hope that the client could indeed repair her relationship with her children when there had been a rupture. Through conducting extensive genogram work with the client she was able to identify the intergenerational impacts of trauma and the presence which this has on her current life.

The client and her children are about to begin the last chapter of their journey with BRIC workers using a dyadic framework with child, parent and therapist to repair the attachment between parent and child and to promote co-regulation. The client has observed that through the 8 months of working with the program she has been able to not internalise the disregulated behaviour of her children as a rejection. This has had a phenomenal impact on the client’s ability to heal the attachment between child and parent.

Read more about the BRIC program