Blog Postpost

Posted Thursday November, 23rd 2023

What is home?

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On September 11th, 2001, almost 3,000 people in the United States were killed when hijacked airplanes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In response to these tragic events, trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk stated that as soon as they were able, the victims naturally ran in the direction of the places they perceived as safe: their own neighborhoods, where they had family, friends, and community to comfort them. Regardless of whether or not someone directly experienced PTSD, people ran home, where either symbolically or physically, someone was there for them - to put their arm around them, to make them a cup of tea, to hold them, to love them.

This summer I had the privilege of providing Theraplay Supervision for a group of therapists in Israel. This group of therapists is now faced with a challenge beyond anything they could have imagined. They are working with families that have been displaced from their homes after having been traumatized by the region’s recent tragedies. These therapists have the ultimate task of working with parents who are dissociated, just as a means of getting through each minute of the day; and kids who are traumatized, running around and acting haywire.

The goal of their work is to put these families back online in a way that is meaningful. Thankfully, these Theraplay practitioners understand the importance of dyadic therapy between parent and child through play and games like checking for hurts and owies, you fall and I’ll catch you, and swinging in a blanket. These therapists understand that what makes you feel at home is the relationship between members of a family, parent and child.

The softness, tenderness and joy that comes from interacting in a playful, loving way that shows the support of a parent and the trust of a child - this is home.

For these parents, and all parents feeling the overwhelm of life, it can be so helpful when a voice comes in from the outside and says - “Hey, let's play. Follow my lead, and I’ll show you how to connect with your child when you don’t have the bandwidth or ability to take these steps.” Family therapists can be there to provide structure and guidance that can keep the parent-child relationship intact in even the most stressful of times.

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