Introduction to Processing Chronic Traumatic Stress History Copy

Cue-Centered Therapy Sessions 6 and 7 cover processing chronic traumatic stress history. These sessions are typically conducted with the child alone. The purpose of these sessions is:

1) to help the child develop more flexible thinking around cognitive distortions (“unhelpful thoughts”) identified within the chronic traumatic stress history

2) to identify and label emotions within the trauma narrative(s) and help the child integrate them into the larger context of their life.

Animation of Brian flipping a whiteboard that says "victim" to the flip side that says "survivor"
Brian changes his narrative from that of a “victim” to that of a “survivor”

You will learn how to use child-friendly restructuring techniques to help the child challenge misconceptions about their traumatic experiences. In these sessions, the therapist also helps shift the child from a victim mode of thinking to a survivor mode by restructuring the life story to incorporate positive and neutral events along with the traumatic ones. The therapist emphasizes the child’s strengths and resilience factors to demonstrate how the child has gotten through the events and continues to do so.

You will also learn to help the child identify and label key trauma emotions—specifically focusing on anger, sadness, and fear—in their trauma narrative(s), so that the child understands how these emotions are related to cues and connected to their cognitive, behavioral, and physiological responses. This helps increase the child’s insight about the impact of trauma in their life and ultimately empowers the child.

Both cognitive restructuring and emotions labeling are processes that require careful attention and pacing—the aim of Session 7 is to allow more time for the therapist to work on this important part of the intervention.