Therapists are having great success applying the findings of new brain research to PTSD treatment for adolescent trauma victims and their families. Since neural pathways can actually be re-routed, researchers are finding, PTSD patients can literally change how their brains process both old and new situations.
Clinicians guide adolescent trauma victims and their families in a systematic, gradual exploration of past traumas, but do so in a context of love, emotional safety, and affirmation. This helps the young woman re-experience previously traumatizing experiences but in a safe and nurturing setting. Feeling loved, valued, and supported as she re-engages past experiences(s) actually creates new neural connections that allow her to perceive not only the event but its meaning and her own role in the trauma, very differently.
The result is that the young woman feels and behaves more positively and less fearfully; this in turn helps her create new experiences and, therefore, even more positive neural connections/pathways. Personal growth becomes self-perpetuating, allowing changes made in treatment to continue post-discharge.
“We teach families about how the brain works at the very beginning of treatment,” says Sunrise Treatment Center’s trauma specialist,  “Knowing that they can actually change and heal at the neurobiological level really gives them a sense of tangible hope and helps accelerate progress.”