Trauma expert presents at Early Childhood Mental Health Institute
By Shirley Pittz, Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Program Officer
OCS sponsored the annual Early Childhood Mental Health Institute in Anchorage April 30 through May 2. A featured expert was Dr. Joy Osofsky, Professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Public Health and head of the Division of Pediatric Mental Health at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Osofsky is a well-known expert in early childhood mental health and the impacts of trauma on young children. She stressed that trauma may have serious behavioral, emotional, social and cognitive impacts, but also noted there is hope for young children if appropriate interventions are put in place.
“While infants and toddlers are most vulnerable to trauma because they are dependent on care, support, and nurturance from caregivers, at the same time they often have the flexibility to recover from adverse experiences if stability, including safety, support, and routines can be created in their environment,” Dr. Osofsky said.
In addition to sharing information on the impacts of trauma, the importance of relationship-based assessments and evaluations, and an overview of parent-child psychotherapy, Dr. Osofsky presented a workshop on Safe Babies Courts.
These courts are designed to focus on the needs of young children and build collaborative partnerships between the court, the legal system, mental health, child welfare, early intervention, and others involved in the well-being of maltreated infants and toddlers. The courts have demonstrated very strong outcomes in preventing further abuse and neglect.
While preventing trauma in the first place is the ideal, Dr. Osofsky confirmed the importance of intervening early during this critical period of development.
To hear Dr. Osofsky’s interview on KSKA public radio’s Line One: Your Health Connection with Dr. Thad Woodard : http://feeds.kska.org/kska-lineone.