For Children From Hard Places, Is Love Enough to Heal?

Holt now offers classes in Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a parenting approach for adopted children — particularly those who have experienced early childhood trauma.

Hands3-216x160Many people believe that if they love a child enough, the child will be able to let go of all their past abuse and neglect and settle into being a loving member of the family. Now there is research that documents the alterations in the central nervous system of children who come from “hard places” — alterations that make it impossible for love and nurturing alone to heal them. It would be the equivalent of trying to cure a child of meningitis with hugs, kisses and chicken soup! We are so lucky to now have medical tests that can identify the alterations in a child’s brain and know what medical treatments can help bring their brain chemicals closer to what nature intended.

However, that is not the whole answer.

Parental interactions do have an enormous impact on a child’s healing, but it involves much more than unconditional love. The key is for parents to learn how to create felt safety in their child. This is the only way we know of to stop the “fight, flight or flee” response that has kept a child safe during their life of abuse and neglect. To create felt safety, parents must learn ways to interact with their child that will quiet and soothe this fear response until it is finally extinguished — opening their child to receive the loving care of their adoptive family. Continue reading “For Children From Hard Places, Is Love Enough to Heal?”