Children’s Hope is a beacon for youth in Texas. It is an organization that provides foster and adoption services. Of particular importance is Children’s Hope’s two residential treatment centers in the Panhandle Plains region. They provide services to children with emotional disturbances. Their goal is to provide children with the tools they need to be resilient in the face of childhood trauma, to function as model citizens, and to be able to function within their families as happy, healthy youth. Their therapeutic framework is Trauma Informed-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Through Trauma Informed-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Children’s Hope helps children understand how their behavior is influenced by their feelings and emotions. They then help children develop a set of tools to identify their feelings before they become overwhelming. Through relaxation and coping strategies, children learn that they are active agents in control of their own outcomes. During this process, they also learn relationship skills to help them develop social support networks. This allows them to create an even greater sense of wellbeing and resiliency.
Once children have mastered the skills of identifying their emotions, coping with them before they become overwhelming, and creating a support network, they begin the lengthy process of confronting their trauma. At Children’s Hope, this is a crucial point in the therapeutic process. It is a time when children come to terms with the root of their most emotional life event(s). They face their worst fears, grieve, share their story with people in their support network that they trust, and come to accept that part of their history. They are then able to move on, placing that trauma firmly in the past where it belongs, often with a sense of relief that they no longer have to hold it in or keep it a secret.
The Trauma Narrative, as the above process is referred to, is a sort of crossroads. It is a harrowing process, and children often struggle with the emotions that emerge during this process. However, it is also a milestone in a child’s care, often, though not always, signaling that the child is almost ready to be returned home or to a foster family. The goal then, is to ensure that each child works authentically on the story of their trauma and is fully committed to the process.
It is an emotional experience for everyone at Children’s Hope when a child has completed his therapy and is ready to leave the center. Staff are happy and excited for the child, but also sad because that child will be missed. Each and every child that crosses the center’s doorstep becomes a part of the Children’s Hope family.