Help for Japanese Children
LONG AFTER THE FLOODWATERS receded and the threat of nuclear calamity faded, the emotional aftershocks of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami last March continued to be felt by its children.
In July, Esther Deblinger, PhD, co-founder and co-director of the CARES (Child Abuse Research and Education Services) Institute at SOM, and staff of the Institute hosted a group of mental health professionals from Japan for training in a novel therapeutic program that has been particularly effective in helping children recover from a variety of traumas, including natural disasters. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), developed by Deblinger with collaborators Judith Cohen and Anthony P. Mannarino, is a nationally recognized treatment model that helps children and adolescents (ages 3 to 18) overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, and has been used by therapists throughout the world.
“Recent research suggests that children who experience the trauma of natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes are at risk for developing significant psychological difficulties,” says Deblinger. “Without help, even small children may experience post-traumatic stress symptoms — withdrawal, depression, sleeplessness and unusually aggressive behavior — that can remain with them throughout their lives.”