Essays on war traumas, adaptation and rehabilitation

Essays on war traumas, adaptation and rehabilitation, were written by Karsten Hundeide in 1998.

The book contains following essays:

1. Adaptation to crises: How do we reinforce children’s resilience?
2. ICDP and children as victims of war.
3. Expressive exercises for intimate sharing in groups.
4. Case-stories from Luanda.
5. A critical note: balancing trauma therapy with social realities.
6. Rehabilitating war victims.
7. Rehabilitation to a new life.
8. Notes on coping
9. Policy guidelines for helping dislocated children.


Adaptation to crises: How do we reinforce children’s resilience?


I am not intending to speak particularly about the ordinary clinical treatment of trauma, which I imagine many of those present here will be familiar with, but I will rather emphasize the potential for healing which can be activated in the child’s social environment. It must be remembered that there are far larger numbers needing help in a difficult refugee situation than the group diagnosed as traumatized in the purely clinical sense (PTSS).
The examples I refer to are mostly from experiences, particularly with homeless refugee children in camps and institutions in Angola, where there are ICDP projects in several towns.

It seems to me that it is not the physical event as such which is of significance in connection with trauma, but the meaning this event has for the person involved. Not everyone present at a catastrophe, or equivalent event, experiences it as being traumatic. It all depends on the meaning this event has for the person and the support he or she has had.
For children, this means that adaptation and reaction to what has happened in a catastrophic situation depends on how this is interpreted and processed in terms of meaning, and the support the child receives from the closest caregivers. I will give several examples of this. This approach is called interpretative, and involves trying to see people’s actions and reactions as being plausible and understandable in the context of how they experience and interpret their situation (Hundeide 1989).

This means that great emphasis is put on finding out how children have experienced their situation, respecting this experience, and to a certain extent, following the child’s indications of what would help to improve their situation. An approach of this kind opens up for new forms of intervention, whereby the child’s experience of “what helped” is taken as the starting point, instead of carrying out a previously set procedure (Ayalon 1996).

Click here to read Karsten's essays about trauma, adaptation and rehabilitation


In addition, we share also an article about ICDP and trauma by Helen Johnsen Christi and Elsa Doehlie.