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Most Powerful Therapy
August 4, 2020
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
-Nelson Mandela

Dr. Bruce D. Perry is an American psychiatrist, currently the Senior Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas and an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. He is also the author of a number of popular books, such as Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential — and Endangered.

In his book, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook, he writes this about dealing with trauma:

“For years mental health professionals taught people that they could be psychologically healthy without social support, that ‘unless you love yourself, no one else will love you...’ The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation...

The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love.”

Holly Elissa Bruno in an article that’s part of the Exchange Essentials article collection, “Trauma-Informed Practice” explains that “children who act out cry out for help...Children who act invisible are dying to stop holding their breath… Throughout my childhood, I survived incest and blackout beatings. Yet, here I am, a testament to the teachers who helped, and more whole because I was broken. I am not alone. We empathize with traumatized children, in part because the majority of us survived abuse or neglect. One (unpublished) study by colleague Jackie Taylor reveals that 58 percent of early childhood teachers experienced childhood trauma (Master’s thesis, 2006).

When I ask ECE professionals across the country: ‘Did you experience a nurturing childhood,’ no less than 75 percent of us describe our early years as outright dysfunctional. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study (2010) enumerates the knee-capping effects childhood trauma has on our adult lives. (TED Talk, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris)

Although dispiriting, these realities can be liberating. How? In the most simply elegant of relational ways, we can be the first in a child’s life to see, hear, and affirm the child. We can help the child find and express her voice. We can co-create safe sanctuaries where children can breathe and play. We can comfort and soothe children so they can learn to find safety within.”

More of Holly Elissa Bruno’s story of her recovery from trauma can be found in her book, Happiness is Running through the Streets to Find You.

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In our large collection of Exchange Essentials article collections, find resources on subjects such as administration, child development, curriculum, environments, family, and leadership.

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