Generating Hope in Children: Transforming Terror Through Healing Activities

Audience: Shelter Staff, especially those who work with children, Court staff, Counselors, and parents.


Children who have witnessed family violence deal with terrorizing memories and a sense of helplessness. Current brain research provides insights into how these experiences affect their behaviors and ability to learn plus ways to transform the memories and recover. Workshop will explore healing activities that rebuild empathy and hope.

This workshop is based on the neurobiological research of Bruce Perry, MD, Ph.D. of CIVITAS, which outlines the structural developmental changes in the brain when children live in persistent threatening situation. The resulting neurobiological changes affect children's behaviors and ability to learn. These changes can contribute to continuing the cycle of violence if not responded to with recovery strategies.

The workshop will focus on children's need to grieve the many losses and traumas incurred through family violence. Because traumatic memories can be accessed only through motor sensory activities, specific healing play, art, and literary activities will be introduced which can promote self recovery that leads to rebuilding empathy and hope. The workshop will combine lecture, group processing and healing activity presentations.

Objectives: All participants will gain understandings...
  • of brain changes as a result of witnessing family violence
  • Of the many losses children from homes where violence occur need to mourn
  • of the specific indicators of traumatic memories in children
  • of the affect of trauma on children's ability to use their cortex
  • of the urgency of early recovery
  • of trauma as a body memory
  • of why traumatic-specific interventions need to be motor-sensory
  • of actual healing activities that incorporate symbolic play, art, and creative writing

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