by Ricky Greenwald; Binghamton, New York, Haworth Press, 2005, 342 pages, $39.95 softcover
Dr. Bowers-Stephens is medical director of the Louisiana Office of Mental Health, New Orleans.
The publication of Ricky Greenwald's Child Trauma Handbook is timely in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Certainly, the scores of children and adolescents directly impacted by this horrific event will benefit from the treatment model presented in this book. Dr. Greenwald, a clinical psychologist, has translated his 20 years of experience into a practical guide for mental health practitioners from diverse professional disciplines and therapeutic orientations. He first distinguishes trauma-informed treatment from routine treatment: "Trauma informed treatment is distinguished in part by the way standard interventions are informed by, and organized around, trauma theory."
This handbook explores the stages of trauma-informed treatment in a step-by-step phase model framework. Readers of this book will gain an understanding of the theory, therapeutic relationship, self-care, and entire course of treatment. In addition, Greenwald focuses on milieu treatment to teach therapists how to help parents, teachers, childcare workers, and youth counselors intervene with youths who have been exposed to trauma. More specifically, he discusses the theory underlying the development of posttraumatic symptoms, as well as the concepts of resiliency, vulnerability, and survival orientation.
In order to benefit from this book one needs to be an experienced child and adolescent therapist who is familiar with structured and motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral interventions, parent and skills training, and play therapy. Specific guidance is given in taking a trauma history, developing a trauma-informed case formulation, and developing a treatment contract or plan. Particular attention is given to case management and working with parents, teachers, and other significant people in the child's life to help him or her feel safe and to promote recovery. Further, evidenced-based techniques for skills and strength building and trauma resolution are thoroughly presented. The facilitation of addressing the trauma memories in a way that is healing and not countertherapeutic is most critical in any trauma treatment model. Greenwald comprehensively outlines a practical, client-centered approach to mastering this most difficult task.
In summary, Greenwald's Child Trauma Handbook is strongly recommended to child and adolescent therapists interested in sharpening their skills in treating trauma-exposed youths. His fascinating, integrated approach should be part of every child and adolescent therapist's treatment repertoire. Children and their families who have been exposed to broad reaching traumas, such as Hurricane Katrina, will benefit greatly by this book. Greenwald deserves praise for a significant contribution to the child and adolescent treatment literature.