How Art Can Overcome Trauma

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Overcome Trauma
Image: traumaabusetreatment.com

A licensed psychologist and social worker, Dr. Miriam Galindo maintains a private practice in Irvine, California, where she typically assists families going through high-stress divorce and child custody cases. Dr. Miriam Galindo focuses on play and art therapy, which holds enormous potential to help not only children working through family crises, but also those around the world who have experienced traumas associated with war, persecution, and forced migration.

Many psychologists and laypeople formerly believed that encouraging children to remember and draw their recollections of extreme traumas did more harm than good. Today, experts know better, and often use art as a means of personal catharsis and one of the first steps in emotional recovery.

Humanitarian aid workers in Darfur were astonished in 2005 when young victims of the tiny East African country’s violent militant group began creating paintings and drawings associated with their traumas. Even professional news photographers had been unable to capture some of the images the children were creating. Many of the pieces were so accurate that they were offered into evidence before the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Psychologists also have written moving accounts of how art helped other young victims of civil wars in the developing world. In one example, a young girl who had witnessed the massacre of her family and the burning of their home drew her way through the agonizing details. The process helped her to release her fear and anguish. She went on to attend high school and work toward her dream of becoming a teacher.

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How Divorce Impacts Infants and Toddlers

 

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Divorce
Image: psychologytoday.com

Mental health professional Dr. Miriam Galindo serves as an approved child custody evaluator, licensed social worker, and psychologist in Irvine, California. Dr. Miriam Galindo largely focuses her work on families involved in divorce cases.

Although infants and toddlers are unable to understand divorce, they are still affected by it due to their ability to perceive changes within their environments. In most cases, toddlers can see that one parent is no longer present, but the children do not understand why that parent has left.

Toddlers can also pick up on the stress, tension, and behavioral changes exhibited by their parents. As a result, toddlers may become aggressive, anxious, or develop separation anxiety and act out more often.

Meanwhile, infants pick up on the emotional and behavioral changes of their parents, but infants are unable to understand why the conflict exists. Infants frequently start mirroring the behavior of their parents and may become fussier than normal or less interested in people and things. Many infants develop stranger anxiety around the parent they see less often, and some may feel a sense of abandonment, especially when they are separated from their primary caregiver.

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

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Helping Children
Image: divorcesupport.about.com

For more than 20 years, Miriam Galindo has served as a licensed social worker and psychologist in California. Currently working in private practice, Miriam Galindo handles a wide variety of child psychology matters that relate to high-conflict divorce cases from the Orange County Superior Court.

Divorce is a challenging situation for both parents and children. A few things parents can do to help their children cope during the process include:

Planning alternatives. Some parents never have a problem with the other parent not showing up to see the child. To prevent a child from feeling let down when this happens, consider planning alternative activities. If an ex doesn’t call or arrive within a specific amount of time, parents can take their kids to the mall or to a different special activity.

Legitimizing their feelings. During the divorce process, most children are going to experience a wide range of feelings. Rather than ignoring these feeling or trying to make the feelings go away, parents should ensure their children know that their feelings are valid. Further, parents should encourage their children to let out their feelings.

Keeping themselves healthy. Children are often extremely adept at picking up on their parents’ feelings. Due to this, parents should manage their stress and keep themselves as emotionally healthy as possible. This ensures parents are capable of providing their children with plenty of care and support during a divorce.

Helping the Children of Veterans Suffering from PTSD

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Art Therapy
Image: arttherapy.org

Leveraging a PhD in psychology from the Trinity College of Graduate Studies, and a master’s degree in social work from California State University, Long Beach, Dr. Miriam Galindo founded her private practice in Irvine, California, in 2004. In her role as a licensed social worker, Dr. Miriam Galindo focuses on therapies designed specifically to help young children in traumatic situations who are at risk, such as play and art therapy.

Research has shown that the children of Veterans with PTSD have an increased risk for behavioral, and interpersonal, and academic problems. Understanding the effects of PTSD on children can be a critical part of treatment and can positively impact how families cope with difficult situations. Common PTSD symptoms include re-experiencing traumatic events, avoiding people and places to the point of isolation, and high anxiety levels, which manifest as difficulty sleeping, being easily startled, and extreme irritability.

Children who witness these events and symptoms tend to respond to a parent’s PTSD symptoms in specific ways. They can over-identify and begin to mimic the feelings and behaviors of the parent, they can act as the rescuer by filling in for the parent and taking on the adult role, or they can become emotionally uninvolved, leading to issues at school, anxiety, and depression.

Helping Children through Art Therapy and Play Therapy

Play Therapy pic

Play Therapy
Image: playtherapy.org

Clinical psychologist and social worker Dr. Miriam Galindo operates a private practice in Irvine, California, where she assists families facing difficult circumstances. Dr. Miriam Galindo helps children process and recover from troubling events through the use of art therapy and play therapy.

Two types of therapy for people of all ages, particularly young children, art therapy and play therapy incorporate the professional standards of counseling with the use of play, imagination, and creativity to help children express, process, cope with, and heal from difficult experiences.

In art therapy, children are encouraged to express themselves and their experiences through the creation of art projects with the guidance of a professional trained in the arts. Through play therapy, children play and use their imaginations to share tough experiences and work through them while being guided by a mental health professional. The two forms of therapy are often used together.

Coping with Divorce for Children

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Coping with Divorce
Image: divorcesupport.about.com

A licensed clinical psychologist and social worker, Dr. Miriam Galindo has been part of an approved panel of experts for Orange County Superior Court since 2005. Dr. Miriam Galindo has been able to work with children and their families through many different aspects of a divorce, and she has a strong understanding of the psychological effects of divorce on a child.

Most of the effects of divorce on a child have less to do with the custodial situation, or even the change in environment, as the uncertainty involved in the divorce process. The presentation of new issues such as parental conflict and the lack of a unified front between parents can be difficult for children. Initial adjustment for children typically takes about two years.

Younger children tend to blame themselves and often imagine their parents getting back together. Older children, meanwhile, see the breakdown of trust and unity in their family relationships and become more independent. In many cases, it also has a negative effect on their first serious romantic relationships, which they expect to fail.

Negative effects of divorce can be mitigated with loving communication from both parents as well as reliable, consistent communication. Children whose divorced parents can maintain amiable relations in front of the child and make time for the child’s needs are more likely to adjust well.

Physically Abused Children Have Trouble Identifying Rewards

Dr. Miriam Galindo pic

Dr. Miriam Galindo
Image: galindopsychology.com

Miriam Galindo is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Irvine, California. Miriam Galindo also has served as a therapist in the Child Abuse Prevention Program at CSP, Inc., in Lake Forest, California.

A study performed by psychologist Dr. Jamie Hanson of the University of Pittsburgh indicates that physically abused children are less able to make choices that lead to rewards. Children who experience abuse often grow up in environments where punishment is always looming and rewards are rare and unpredictable. Thus, they don’t have the ability to adapt to new rules.

The researchers performed an experiment where abused and nonabused children had to choose between pictures of objects to earn points for a prize. One of the pictures was randomly chosen to award points significantly more frequently than the other. While both sets of children chose higher-value images more often as the trial progressed, the physically abused children lagged behind, choosing the correct picture in 131 out of 200 trials. The nonabused children chose the image 151 times out of 200.

Scientists posit the unpredictability and inconsistency of rewards at home may affect the decision-making abilities of abused children in social situations.