Dealing with sexual trauma

Family Trauma Therapist Catherine Mogil, PsyD, shares advice for parents on how to help your child overcome the difficulties faced after sexual trauma
Advice For Helping Children Deal WIth Sexual Trauma
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Dealing with sexual trauma

Sexual trauma affects the brain in numerous ways, but most notably are in the areas of memory and emotion. And these are really important, because as we are experiencing things in life, we’re sort of laying down tracks and laying down neural pathways. And when they’re tied to memory and emotion that means that we can have memories triggered that have an emotional memory to them. So we may re-experience some of the trauma at different times that are even unexpected. It may be the anniversary of the trauma. It may be a trip to the doctor that may remind you of the time that you were really badly hurt by somebody else. And it’s important for parents to remember that that the brain really has been altered slightly. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to stay that way forever and it’s always going to be bad. But what it does mean is that parents can help their child to prepare for the reminders; they can become aware of the family level reminders so that they can all anticipate that on July 20th it’s going to be a really hard day. They can also remember that at different times throughout the child’s development, they’re going to have new questions – different questions. They’re going to understand what happened to them in a different way as they grow and so they should always keep the door open to be able to have the conversations about the child’s experience even from 5 years earlier.

Family Trauma Therapist Catherine Mogil, PsyD, shares advice for parents on how to help your child overcome the difficulties faced after sexual trauma


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Catherine Mogil, PsyD

Family Trauma Therapist

Dr. Catherine E. Mogil is an assistant clinical professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and serves as the director of training and intervention development for the Nathanson Family Resilience Center and as the co-director of the Child and Family Trauma Service.

Dr. Mogil is also a consultant for the National Military Family Association's Operation Purple Family Retreats, the Uniformed Services University, and a special military project with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Her recent research focuses on the effects of multiple deployments on military families, including the role of parental functioning on childhood mental health. Working with children of all developmental stages, Dr. Mogil has been involved in several intervention development and translational research projects that examine the efficacy of parent-assisted interventions for infants and toddlers in foster care, school-aged children with developmental disabilities, and adolescents with autism spectrum and other disorders.

Dr. Mogil is certified in parent-child interaction therapy, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, and leadership education in neurodevelopmental disabilities. She received her doctorate from Pepperdine University and completed her clinical internship at UCLA. Dr. Mogil also completed a postdoctoral fellowship specializing in the prevention and treatment of child and family traumatic stress at the University of Southern California and Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

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