Adoption/Children in Care
Adoption is an exciting event in a family’s life. However, forming a family through adoption may come with challenges. In particular, children who have experienced early trauma may have difficulty attaching or experience challenges at both home and school – in these cases parents often find themselves looking for support. OCATT therapists use a family-centred approach to the challenges experienced by adopted children, children in foster care and their families. We draw on the most effective attachment nurturing models in order to create a safe base from which your child can heal and your family can thrive.
Children are born “wired” to connect with their caregivers. Unfortunately, early life experiences of multiple caregivers and/or trauma can get in the way of building healthy attachment. OCATT therapists work with children in care and adopted children who are struggling with attachment difficulties using a method called Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP). DDP takes an attachment-focused, trauma informed and family centered approach. Parents are actively involved in this therapy.
The main goal of DDP is to create safety for the child so that a secure attachment can develop with their caregivers. Parents and therapist work together to create a safe environment which allows the child to address trauma and come to terms with their anger and shame. In DDP both parents and therapist approach the child using empathy, acceptance and curiosity.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Operational Stress Injusry (OSI)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event (first responders, combat, assault, violent crime or disasters). Operational Stress Injury (OSI) is another common term used by first responders and military to describe experiences of trauma that occurs on the job. Trauma is a natural emotional reaction to terrible experiences that involve actual or threatened serious harm to oneself or others. Most people have some stress reactions after a traumatic event. However, for some people, the thoughts or memories of these events seriously affect their lives, long after any real danger has passed. This is classified as post-traumatic stress disorder, a serious anxiety disorder. If you have a diagnosis of PTSD/OSI, or suspect you may be struggling with PTSD/OSI, Ocatt Therapists can help you navigate through this difficult period of your life.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a brain-based physical disability caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. CANFASD, a national research organization, estimates that 4% of Canadians are affected by FASD, although poor access to assessment and the complexity of the disorder suggests that this number may be low.
FASD is complex and affects many different areas of life, from executive functioning (the brain’s ability to organize information) to mental health to physical health. A study completed in 2016 showed that there are over 400 different diagnosis that are co-morbid (occur together) with FASD. People with FASD are far more likely to struggle with anxiety, compromised attachment and trauma. They are also more likely to have challenges with short term memory loss and processing language which can make “talk therapy” challenging.
At OCATT, some of our therapists have years of experience working with clients with FASD and, therefore, know how to adapt therapy to meet the unique needs of clients from such complex backgrounds. They can also help support families going through the assessment process and understand the support needed throughout the lifespan.
When a child is exposed to multiple traumatic events in the care of their primary caregivers, it is referred to as developmental trauma. In these circumstances, a child’s energy is focused on surviving and developing skills to protect themselves. These crisis survival skills may not be helpful when trying to enter into a stable relationship with a safe caregiver like a foster or adoptive parent. Since trauma occurred in relationship, it is in relationship that healing will occur. One of the most challenging things for a child to learn is to trust an adult when they have been let down by adults in the past. We work with parent and child together to write a new story of safety, healing and acceptance.
Adults, like children, are wired for connection to other people. Experiences in early relationships create a blueprint that informs an adult’s ability to enjoy healthy relationships. If you are currently struggling in your adult relationships, OCATT therapists can help you explore your early and formative relationships and uncover your ability to develop healthy relationships in the present. We recognize that while relationships can create the most pain in our lives, they can also bring the greatest healing.
Caregiver Fatigue occurs as emotional exhaustion from caring for a loved one who has experienced trauma or is struggling with mental or physical illness. It can involve a decrease in empathy and a decline in feelings of pleasure, alongside an increase in stress, anxiety and negativity. Parents and loved ones caring for a child/spouse who is struggling do not get to go home at the end of the day to escape from the stress. In time caregivers and family members may begin to isolate themselves and experience anger at their loved one as they lose hope. We at OCATT recognize that there are times when it is difficult to carry on with these feelings of isolation. OCATT therapists are willing to journey alongside you.
Depression is much more than simple unhappiness. Depression is a complex mood disorder caused by various factors, including genetic predisposition, personality, stress and brain chemistry. Depression is not something that people can “get over” on their own. Symptoms of depression include feeling sad, worthless, hopeless, guilty, irritable and angry. It can be hard to concentrate, learn new things or make decisions. Depression can change the way people eat and sleep, and many people experience physical health problems. Therapists at OCATT are trained to help you work through depression and alleviate the symptoms.
Anxiety disorders can affect anyone at any age. Sometimes, anxiety is triggered by a specific, stressful life experience. Everyone experiences symptoms of anxiety, but they are generally short-lived and do not cause problems. But when symptoms of anxiety are persistent and cause distress in a person’s life to the point that it negatively affects the ability to work, study, socialize and manage daily tasks, it may be time to seek help. OCATT therapists can help you navigate symptoms of anxiety and develop coping strategies.
First Responders and their families make up a distinctive culture within society. The complex and overwhelming challenges they face are piled on top of the common problems all people deal with. Even in a short career a first responder will see more trauma and suffering than most people will see in their entire lives. First Responders need to create social and emotional distance to protect themselves from this steady diet of human tragedy – this can negatively impact intimate relationships where emotions and vulnerability are necessary. In a very real way being a first responder is a family occupation. A supportive home life and positive relationships are key to buffering first responder work stress and maintaining a sense of well-being. OCATT therapists can help you navigate the effects of workplace stress and possible PTSD/OSI and help to build positive intimate relationships.
Eye Movement Desentization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy technique focused on the needs of people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, PTSD, OSI and related challenges. EMDR is built on cutting edge brain science and helps clients address their trauma and come to healthy resolution by developing new and positive thought pathways. Making use of EMDR techniques of bi-lateral stimulation, your therapist will help you address traumatic memories and negative patterns of thought by developing new positive patterns. OCATT therapists are trained to work with adults, youth and children using EMDR.
Every couple has challenges that can ‘pop-up’ or build over time. Dealing with daily stressors at work, raising children, and financial worries are problems that can erode a couple’s relationship. Whether you are dealing with communication problems, life transitions or infidelity, OCATT therapists can help you and your partner heal from painful events, increase communication skills and renegotiate the relationship.