BUILDING EMPATHY THROUGH READING By Kenzi Dirks, M.A., R.C.C.   “We really emphasize saying sorry,” a concerned foster mother said to me, “when Milo hurts someone we always make him apologize.” “How is that working?” I inquired, genuinely curious. “I don’t think he means it,” she responded. Children who have experienced complex trauma can have …

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Working with Complex Trauma is Challenging: Increasing Resilience by: Dr. Kirk Austin Resilience is a funny word. It means to bounce back, to rebound, or to recover. It is an essential life-skill that can lead to healthy identity development.  Sarah Hamill believes that resilience typically refers to the development of competence in the face of adversity. More specifically, it refers to a dynamic process of positive adaptation and development while simultaneously facing a significant amount of adversity (Luthar, Cicchetti & …

Factors that can influence the level of Care Team Functionality by David Brown I have been reflecting on my behaviour during some recent events, meetings and interactions with both colleagues and friends. I noticed with significant disappointment how often I would hesitate to say something due to my own uncertainty regarding whether, by saying it, …

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Inter-Generational Trauma by Fred Chou Sandy was a young adolescent boy that was currently in a foster care placement with two care groups; he was with his grandmother on the weekend in his own reserve and then during the week days he stayed with a foster family in his city.  He presented with behavioral issues; anger and violence which was often directed in the form of self-harming tendencies as well as periodically lashing out at those who cared for him.  …

Relationship Repair by: Dr. Kirk Austin It seemed that every time Johnny returned from visiting his mother he would have an “off day”. He had spent the last year in a foster home because his mother was unable to care for him. Her mental health and addiction issues had provided the backdrop of their relationship …

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Yoga for Trauma by Lisa Frede Jaime sat cross legged on her new yellow yoga mat, wondering why she had ever agreed to try this. The instructor at the front of the room was addressing the class, yet Jaime’s mind was racing and she could hardly focus on what was being said – something about …

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What’s in a Name? Lionel was moody in recent weeks. His parents noticed that he appeared to be more withdrawn at home and spent more time in his room. When they inquired at the school, teachers mentioned that the other kids had been picking on Lionel because it was “different”. Not knowing how to deal …

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I went to the mall today and I was surrounded by parents and their children who were doing their Back-to-school shopping. I could hear parents tell their children to pay attention and to choose which pair of shoes they liked. As I listened to the conversation, I had a memory of a time when I …

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Fourteen-year old Malia is a male of Caucasian and Somalian descent who has lived with his foster family for the past 4 years. Prior to moving in with his foster family, Malia lived with his biological Muslim family until he was 10 years old. His foster mother Angela came to me asking for help on how to help him to feel “like he really belonged in their family”. She said despite having lived with them for so many years and …

Over this past year, I worked with an 11-year-old girl named Jenny who was going to be re-introduced to her biological father after not seeing him for 18 months.  The caregivers brought Jenny to me as she was exhibiting a wide range of emotions and behaviours from excitement to anxiety. These were connected to the impending visit.

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