Monday, September 21, 2009

Gentling: A Practical Guide to Treating PTSD in Abused Children

William E. Krill, Jr., LPC
Loving Healing Press (2009)
ISBN 9781615990030
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (8/09)


"Gentling" is described by the author as "… the process of delivering the balm of gentle gestures."  This includes using both compassion and empathy in dealing with young children who are victims of severe abuse.  In "Gentling," the author discusses his personal experiences in working with young children who have stress disorders.  In doing so, he also thoroughly covers the differences in the behaviors of children who are acting out because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD,) versus normal children who are just misbehaving.  It is also noted that a child who is being raised in a home that is highly dysfunctional, can also experience stress disorders, even if an acute incident has not occurred.
Because young children's brains are still developing they tend to be more acutely affected by abuse and stressful environments.  Based upon his experience, Krill has found that adult PTSD treatments cannot be successfully adapted to meet the needs of young children who are dealing with stress disorders.  One reason why these treatments do not work on young children is because they are not yet able to express themselves like adults can.  They also have not developed the same internal resources to draw upon that an adult can create.
Included in this book is an extensive appendices which provides vital information that includes a Child Stress Profile, Handouts for Caregivers, and Quick Teach Sheets.  There are also interesting case studies which demonstrate how the gentling process was applied to real situations.  Unfortunately, because many abused children end up being moved around in the foster care system, their treatments are interrupted.  If more professionals became familiar with Gentling, then there would be more people to pick up where others left off. 
Krill believes that victims of child abuse have their own version of PTSD.  If this child does not receive appropriate treatment, the behaviors can become worse, more embedded and harder to treat.  Therefore, I believe that it is essential that people who are involved with these children especially clinicians, parents, foster parents and teachers read "Gentling." By doing so it will help them to recognize the behaviors and deal with the child more effectively.