Resolving unprocessed family violence trauma with butterfly hugs

Benji* is in Grade 3. His favourite animal is a tie between sloths and dogs.  He loves his Mum’s apricot chicken, playing with Lego and watching Harry Potter movies.

When he’s finished school, he wants to either be a YouTuber or a vet.

But Benji wasn’t thinking about his future much a year ago. Both his parents grew up as wards of the state after experiencing abuse at home.  Benji’s lived in 11 different places, been to 4 schools and has been scared of his dad for as long as he can remember.

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For some, Christmas isn’t merry and bright

As we come towards the end of what has been a difficult year, school and kinder stop for holidays and there’s lots to do. There’s the end-of-year busyness as we rush towards the finish line.  There’s lots of trying to squeeze in seeing friends, buying presents and preparing food for gatherings. While all this activity can be fun for some – and certainly many people feel like there’s extra to celebrate this year – for others it’s an extremely stressful and anxious time of the year.

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Rupture, repair & building resilience in residential care

Residential care is not somewhere kids should have to live.

All children deserve a safe home with adults who care about them. Unfortunately, there are lots of kids who end up living in residential care with paid carers rostered to come into the unit and look after them.

However, for one 11-year-old that we’ve been working with, it’s been a positive place for him to live… temporarily.

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How to adopt a relationship-building approach

COVID has taken a huge toll on our collective mental health and wellbeing in Victoria.

For a lot of people who have previously suffered trauma or experienced any mental health problems it’s been even harder. For some children in out-of-home care who have experienced developmental trauma as a result of neglect or abuse, it’s been devastating.

Reports show during Stage 4 lockdown restrictions, there’s been a dramatic increase in Victorian children hospitalised due to self-harm and an unprecedented number of calls from Victorians to mental health services.

In this article we’ll explain how using a relationship-building approach can help a child feel safer, more secure and cared for.

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Supporting minds & spirits with cultural connections

“Heeeeey, Rob… I, I, I a Abbb-or-ig-in-oool!” he says proudly.

And off he runs again. A few moments later he’s back with a soft toy.

“And it,” he says pointing at his soft cuddly animal, “it, it my t… t… – who it Mum?”

“Totem mate,” says Anna softly, smiling at him.

“Yeah, it my toeeee-tum.” He grins and off he runs again to get his new gumboots to show Robyn, his Take Two clinician on the Zoom video call.

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Celebrating our Elders of tomorrow

By Kim Bradford, Aboriginal Consultant, Berry Street Take Two.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the babies, children and young people referred to Berry Street’s Take Two service are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. 

Yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up less than 2% of all Victorian children (Productivity Commission 2020).

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Video: Radically improving someone’s life: the emotional health of the babies

Babies – like all humans – can have good mental health, poor mental health or anything in between.

The first 1000 days of a child’s life is crucial to their mental health later in life. All babies need to feel safe and looked after – it’s what sets up their expectations of what a loving relationship feels like.

If the baby is not fed when they are hungry, held when distressed or spoken to regularly, they quickly learn to expect not to be looked after.

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Sensory strategies for calming the body and mind

Berry Street’s Take Two program has recently had an article published on the CFCA information exchange on the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) website.

The article explains how and why children who have experienced trauma may find it more difficult to regulate their emotions and behaviours than other children.

Practice Development and Training Team Leader Clare Ryan explains how Take Two uses the Regulate–Relate–Reason framework in its clinical work to assist children to calm their bodies and emotions. The framework is a core element of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) approach developed by Dr Bruce Perry in the United States.

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Free Social Story: Getting tested for COVID

Getting tested for COVID is uncomfortable. The nurse or doctor needs to swab the back of the throat and mouth.

Being prepared for the procedure will help children cope better and feel less anxious.

Berry Street’s Take Two Developmental Specialists Team have developed a free printable social story that explains in familiar terms, what will happen and why the test is needed.

Take Two invites carers or parents (especially those looking after children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other developmental differences including a trauma history) to share the social story with their child to make a COVID test more manageable.

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Video: How every caregiver can create healing moments at home every day

Counselling or psychotherapy sessions ─ with the active involvement of carers ─ can be extremely helpful for babies, children and young people who have experienced neglect or abuse.

However, for a child to learn to trust that adults will look after them, those sessions need to be reinforced. Small, easy-to-do, repeated and regular moments can be created in everyday activities to remind the child that their caregiver genuinely cares about them and will look after them.

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Video: How regulating bodies helps calm minds

These are challenging times. For some households, the changes COVID-19 is requiring are a struggle. Many families are spending much more time together. Tensions are probably high for lots of adults and children – both will be anxious as they navigate this new way of life.

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Childhood communications delays – a pilot project

How many babies who experience serious hardships in their first year of life have delayed communication skills?

The Berry Street Take Two team based in Bendigo in the Loddon region of Victoria were worried about this. They welcomed a speech pathologist to work with them for more than a year, as part of Take Two’s Communication Project to help understand the scale of the problem.

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