Handling family trauma

Catherine Mogil, PsyD Family Trauma Therapist, shares advice for parents on how to best help their child through a traumatic family event
Expert Advice For Handling A Family Trauma
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Handling family trauma

Following a trauma, child may have to do things like have long car drives to visit a family member or they might have to wait in an office for a while. For example, if they are having extra doctors visits or hospital stays or if they are having to get a forensic interview, things like that. And so, it is really helpful if a parent can remember that they can make use of that time. They are kind of blessed in a way. The silver lining is that they get some extra time with their child. And so, if they can make use of that and help the child restore normalcy through that when it is a pretty unusual circumstance to have to be waiting for a forensic interview or waiting in a doctor´s office or a hospital. So one of the things that parents can do is just remember to have fun with their kids. Use that time to talk and listen to the kid, try to understand what is going on for their child. Also, let them know what to expect. When we go in the doctor´s office, she will examine you and she is going to want to look at your arm or she is going to want to look at maybe a private part. Let them know what to expect but also outside of that have some fun. So maybe play games while you are waiting in the office. There is a great, simple game that parents can use that is really portable, that they can take it anywhere with them, and it is just an improv game called Yes And. And so basically, each member of the family says a sentence and then the next person goes and they start their sentence with Yes, and. And that can get really funny and silly and it just a nice way that parents can start enjoying their child again and not be focused on just the trauma. And likewise, the child can have kind of levity from the situation that might be kind of scary.

Catherine Mogil, PsyD Family Trauma Therapist, shares advice for parents on how to best help their child through a traumatic family event


Expert Bio

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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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