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The Caregiving Family as Stressor

July 30, 2010

As I expand my knowledge for the purpose of steering our Restoration to Health Strategy, I learn new phrases that simplify my understanding of the complexities we face. The phrase I am talking about today is the Caregiving Family. Within the Adverse Childhood Experience theory, the Caregiving Family is often the Stressor Family as well. The trauma inflicted on children is most often the result of trauma’s previously inflicted on their parents. So Caregiving Families often pass the trauma on to the children in their care.

As we discuss how to position our behavioral health services to best respond to the needs we anticipate, we need to do a couple of things. First, we need to understand our clients. We have some survey data, existing records (confidential to our health care providers and behavioral health providers), information in the public domain, information volunteered to us from community activists, and information we solicit from community members. We are also talking to others who have experience with the Caregiving Family, and Stressor Families. So what I now know is that we have to help our Stressor Families become great Caregiver Families, and to do that we must work with them holistically. Since many of our Caregivers have multiple traumas, we know that work must proceed with them to both recognize and process their traumas to help them gain the skills for working on their addictive behaviors. We also have to work with these Caregivers to build effective parenting skills. And ultimately, we need to work with the children to help them with the emotional needs they have that lead to distressing symptoms and behaviors.

I encourage you to read this article by Blaustein and Kinniburgh on “Providing the family as a secure base for therapy with children and adolescents.”

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