Thursday, 3 April 2014

Re-traumatising and music therapy

When living and working with traumatised children, it's important to know as much background as possible about each child so that you can avoid re-traumatising. For example, if you know that your foster child was abused in their bedroom you might want to move settling activities such as bedtime stories downstairs, or if you know that your foster child was scapegoated in their family, you will want to be very careful how you phrase things when disciplining them to avoid bringing those feelings to the surface.

We know very little of the day to day detail of why Peter and his siblings are in care, so haven't really had to plan any strategies other than the usual ones around safer caring. We had an issue the other morning that could easily have been avoided - I bopped Peter on the head with a cushion in a playful way to chivy him on, and he looked terrified and reacted as though I was going to beat him. Obviously I felt dreadful, but now we know that reaction is a possibility and can imagine some of the reasons why, we'll be able to be more sensitive.

Peter seems to be very musical. He hasn't yet got the concept of "tune", but he definitely has rhythm and a good memory for lyrics (not the exact words as his language skills aren't there yet, but he gets the general shape of them), and loves to sing loudly and enthusiastically, sounding a bit like a Gregorian chant. He can also pick out a different part to a song, so sometimes I'll be singing a melody and he'll come in with the bass line, getting the length of each note right and without getting distracted by me singing something different, it's quite extraordinary. We're hoping to arrange music therapy for him in the near future to see whether he engages with it, but for now he seems to be happy chanting along to folk songs in the car!

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