Training Nurse Practitioners on Symptoms of Complex Developmental Trauma in Children is Critical as a Part of the Solution

Contemporary Clinic Staff

Bethany Hall, MSN, the owner of Healing Connection, discusses the importance of training nurse practitioners on how to identify signs and symptoms of complex developmental trauma in pediatric populations.

Contemporary Clinic® interviewed Bethany Hall, the owner of Healing Connection, on the role nurse practitioners have in understanding and approaching care for children with complex developmental trauma (CDT).

In this discussion, Hall explains why training on the recognition of symptoms of CDT in children can be essential in supporting their identification by nurse practitioners in order to best approach care for that child.

Alana Hippensteele: Without this training, would nurse practitioners be able to recognize the symptoms of CDT in children?

Bethany Hall: So, I can speak for myself as a nurse practitioner—I didn't know anything about it.

So, there were often times where I had this little feeling in my chest when we'd interact with the child that had come in and had a suicide attempt like I just feel like the way we're doing this isn't the best.

This child is being shut down, clearly doesn't feel safe in this environment. We bring them in the emergency department, and we strip them down for safety reasons. They're put in basically just a nightgown, so if you can imagine a child that's experienced sexual trauma, then being asked to completely disrobe in a very cold sterile environment with a security guard standing outside the door.

I just remember feeling like this just feels really wrong to me and I don't know how to do things differently or why this isn't right, but I just feel like it's not right.

So, I think probably any nurse practitioner that's encountered a child that has gone through severe neglect, abuse, childhood dysfunction in their home, there may be something that goes this just doesn't feel right. I feel like heavily medicating this 5-year-old until they can't even really cry when they're hurt kind of a thing feels unnatural to us.

I think as nurses we're often very perceptive to that, and you may feel that there should be more we're doing. I can say, in my experience, 100% I did not receive any education in this, and I wouldn't have had the tools to diagnose this, to recognize it, and much more.

I would definitely not have had the tools necessary to be a part of the solution. So, I think it's really important that, as the CDC just came out with a report on Adverse Childhood Experiences scores, and I think as there's this increasing awareness in the mental health and psychology counterparts that we really need to jump on that train and understand what we can. How can I educate myself, how can I get the tools necessary to be a part of the solution, not only to recognize the problem but to do something about it.

Related Content