Using Trauma-Focused Therapy Stories: Interventions for Therapists, Children, and Their Caregivers

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Pat Pernicano

  • Using Trauma-Focused Therapy Stories
  • Using Trauma-Focused Therapy Stories
    A groundbreaking treatment resource for trauma-informed therapists and school counsellors who work with abused and neglected children ages nine years and older.

258 pages
Age Range: 9+
ISBN: 9780415726924

Using Trauma-Focused Therapy Stories is a groundbreaking treatment resource for trauma-informed therapists who work with abused and neglected children ages nine years and older as well as their caregivers. The therapy stories are perfect accompaniments to evidence-based treatment approaches and provide the foundation for psychoeducation and intervention with the older elementary-aged child or early pre-teen.

Therapists will also benefit from the inclusion of thorough guides for children and caregivers, which illustrate trauma and developmental concepts in easy-to-understand terms. The psychoeducational material in the guides, written at a third- to fourth-grade reading level, may be used within any trauma-informed therapy model in the therapy office or sent-home for follow-up. Each therapy story illustrates trauma concepts, guides trauma narrative and cognitive restructuring work, and illuminates caregiver blind spots; the caregiver stories target issues that often become barriers to family trauma recovery.

No therapist who works with young trauma survivors will want to be without this book, and school-based professionals, social workers, psychologists and others committed to working with traumatised children will find the book chock-full of game-changing ideas for their practice.

Table of Contents



Part I. Therapist Guide to Trauma and Use of Therapy Stories

  1. Overview of the Impact of Trauma
  2. Using Narrative, Metaphor and Trauma Focused Stories in Trauma Intervention

Part II. Therapy Stories to Use with Children 1.Trauma Triggers: The False Alarm

2. Impact of Trauma: Lucky the Junkyard Dog

  1. Repeated Exposure to Abusive Behavior: Trick or Treat
  2. Avoidance: The Hidey Hole
  3. Trauma Narrative: Bear of a Different Color
  4. Self-Blame: Bear’s Self-Blame Game
  5. Coping with Stress: The Burden Bag
  6. Letting Out Negative Feelings: A Little at a Time
  7. Self-Control: Keep the Lion on a Leash
  8. Anger-Control (Bullying): The Dragon’s Fire
  9. Protective Behaviors: Safety in Numbers
  10. Coping with Depression: The Black Cloud
  11. Coping with Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors: The Magic Stone
  12. Containing Fear and Anxiety: Wrap It Up
  13. Self-Acceptance: The Furry Boa
  14. Unconditional Love: The Bulldog’s Dilemma
  15. Pre-Verbal Trauma Narrative: Little Butterfly and the Bad Thing
  16. Sibling Trauma Narrative: Stick Together

18. Family Trauma Narative: The Hidey Hole

  1. Coping with Phobic Anxiety: The Grounded Eagle
  2. Attachment Work for Pre-Verbal Truma: The New Cocoon
  3. Living in Out of Home Care: The Good Enough Elf
  4. High-Risk Behaviors: The Moth and the Flame
  5. Safety Around Perpetrators: The Hungry Alligator and the Mean Snake
  6. Grooming Behavior: Party Games
  7. Cross-Generational Trauma: Grandma’s Alligator

Part III. Therapy Stories to Use with Adolescents

  1. Fight and Flight: The Monster Within
  2. Showing Your True Feelings: The Mixed Up Clown
  3. Blaming Others: Poop in the Barnyard
  4. Mood Regulation and Self-Control: The Feral Cat
  5. Cognitive Processing: Let it Simmer
  6. Vigilance: Looking for Landmines in Disneyland
  7. Coping with an Eating Disorder: The Twin in the Mirror
  8. Choices in Dating Relationships: No More Rotten Eggs
  9. Feeling Broken or Damaged: The Cracked Glass Bowl
  10. Defensive Protection: Polly's Plight
  11. Dissociation and Part-Self Work: A Safe Place to Call Home
  12. Self Integration: The Unraveled Tapestry
  13. Coping with Heartbreak: The Girl with the Plastic Heart
  14. Moving in a New Direction: Gold in the Desert
  15. Escaping Family Patterns: Swimming in the Swamp

Part IV. Therapy Stories to Use with Caregivers 1.Co-Dependency: Don't Let the Leeches Suck You Dry

2. Relational Control: The Dance

3. The Cycle of Violence: Chip Away

4. Protectiveness with Children: Does He Bite?

5. Parental Risk Taking: The Balncing Act

6. Attachment Needs: Velma Crowe's Sticky Situation

7. Empathy vs. Blame: First Things First

Part V. Child’s Guide to Trauma and Healing from Trauma

  1. Introduction to the Child
  2. The Impact of Abuse
  3. Freak- Out (Vigilance and Alert)
  4. Freeze or High Emotion (Alarm)
  5. Flight (Fear)
  6. Fight (Terror)
  7. Abuse and Trauma
  8. PTSD and Complex Trauma
  9. How Stress Affects Kids
  10. Memory of Abuse
  11. How Adults Can Help (or Hurt) Abused Kids
  12. The Trauma Stress Chain Reaction: Freakout
  13. The Trauma Stress Chain Reaction: Freeze
  14. The Trauma Stress Chain Reaction: Flight
  15. The Trauma Stress Chain Reaction: Fight
  16. Your Own Chain Reaction
  17. What Does Your Brain Have to Do With It?
  18. How Stress Changes Your Brain
  19. Coping Skills to Get Over Abuse: Calm Down
  20. Coping Skills: Connect
  21. Coping Skills: Conquer

Part VI. Caregiver’s Guide to Trauma

  1. Impact of Trauma on Development
  2. Neurobiology and Trauma
  3. Caregiver Stress and Self-Care

Appendix A Resources for Abused Children and Their Caregivers

Appendix B Example of Trauma Stress Chain Reaction and State Dependent Functioning

Appendix C Signs of Trauma at Different Ages and Stages

Appendix D Overlap of Trauma Symptoms with Other Disorders Appendix E Tuning in to Your Child



"This is an awesome book! I love the way Dr. Pernicano uses story and narrative to help abused children and their families reintegrate and reconnect with themselves and other families. Lots of clinical insight and important nuggets of information. A must read for people working with this population."
- J. Douglas Bremner, MD, author of Does Stress Damage the Brain? and You Can’t Just Snap Out of It

"Pat Pernicano is a skilled storyteller, a skilled trauma practitioner, a skilled child therapist, and a skilled communicator of how to work helpfully and effectively with those who need it most. If you are engaged in these areas—and also want to be a skilled practitioner—you need this book in your hands and the applications in your work, now."
- George W. Burns, author of 101 Healing Stories and Happiness, Healing, Enhancement

"Using Trauma-Focused Therapy Stories is a unique and comprehensive treatment resource to be used together with available treatment approaches for working with abused and neglected children. The author takes us on a wonderful journey through detailed case examples and stories that illustrate how to develop and use stories as part of the process of treating not only children and adolescents, but also adults. The child and caregiver’s guides offer useful workbook-type activities and helpful psychoeducational material that move treatment along. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind book and a must have for trauma treatment."
- Athena A. Drewes, PsyD, director of clinical training and doctoral internship at Astor Services for Children and Families