When military parents are ill or injured

Catherine Mogil, PsyD Family Trauma Therapist, shares advice on how to best support and care for children whose military parent is ill or injured
Supporting Kids When Military Parents Are Ill Or Injured
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When military parents are ill or injured

When a parent has an injury or illness, it affects the entire family, even the youngest children. These injuries could be due to wartime related injuries, combat related injuries, or it could just be a parent's medical illness. It's really important that parents be thoughtful and plan their communication with their children about these things. Often times, parents may be worried and not know what to say, so they don't say anything. The thing we know about kids, particularly our youngest kids, is that they will create and answer that makes sense to them. They will come up with something, maybe pretty magnificent, about what might be going on with their parent. Often times, if a parent can tell them the truth, it really relax. Often it is not as bad as what they imagined what might be wrong with their parent. One way we help parents to talk with their kids about their injury is to think about, what is it that my child might be concerned about or really need to know? Maybe they need to know that things will be okay. So maybe mom or dad has come home with Post Traumatic Stress, or maybe they have come home with the loss of a limb, or a severe burn. The thing that really helps kids is to know that, right now, things are different. Mom or dad can't do exactly what they used to do, but there are also some things that are the same. Maybe mom or dad can still sit with me on the couch, even if they can't go out and rough house in the yard. There are maybe even things that are better. This might be hard for kids to come up with, but it might be things like, "At least my dad's home now," or "I really like to cuddle with mom or dad on the couch and we get more of that since we can't go out and rough house."

Catherine Mogil, PsyD Family Trauma Therapist, shares advice on how to best support and care for children whose military parent is ill or injured


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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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