by Debra Whiting Alexander
New Harbinger Publications, 1999
Review by Margo McPhillips on Oct 31st 2000
This is an extremely helpful book, with a wealth of useful information presented in a warm supportive style. The book's point of view is of you helping your child who has suffered a trauma. What constitutes a trauma is not explicitly defined but most of the examples are of sudden violent events ranging from home burglary to witnessing the stabbing murder of a beloved babysitter at close range. The examples are sensitively presented and cleanly placed so they are informative without being too upsetting to the reader.
I especially liked the number of "lists" detailing how to help a child think, talk, and feel about a traumatic experience and about themselves after it. Some of the lists are directed at specific things to say to the child and others are about how to help oneself help the child; what attitude or approach to take toward the child. Many of the lists were helpful to me dealing with my own adult emotions. Between the lists are excellent explanatory paragraphs detailing what may be happening to the child and the adults involved in a traumatic experience. The book leaves the adult reader feeling they can effectively help a child deal with a traumatic experience and gives the added bonus of supporting and helping the adult deal with the experience as well.
The author works with experience in a holistic fashion. The first chapter is about healing the heart or feelings. The second chapter is about healing the mind and begins with the heading "I can't stop thinking about it," a common complaint of children and adults alike who have been traumatized. Many styles of coping are presented and explained. Anyone who has suffered an unpleasant or traumatic experience, especially as a child, will identify with many of the styles and ideas, both good and bad. I was comforted to read about the "No-Talk Rule," which prevailed in my family. The "order" in which one should address the confusion and pain of what has happened is covered too.
This book really lives up to its subtitle, A Healing Guide. Just reading it was comforting and helpful to me. All of the advice and information is just good, solid information for child and adult interaction in any situation.