“For months, Erin Hagerty tried to get the young boy to open up about his traumatic past. Instead, he spent entire sessions avoiding eye contact, staring at the wall and refusing to speak.
But Hagerty, a clinical psychologist with the Advocate Childhood Trauma Treatment Program didn’t give up on the child, who had been abandoned by his parents and sexually abused by multiple relatives. She built predictable routines — like starting sessions with a joke — into each meeting. She offered him choices in activities, which helped him feel more in control.
In time, the boy learned to trust Hagerty and began sharing his feelings and experiences, while he and his new adoptive family learned how to work together. Eighteen months later, Hagerty said the young boy’s smiling, playful and trusting personality epitomizes the importance of work done by the Advocate Childhood Trauma Treatment Program, one of only a few agencies in Illinois specializing in mental health treatment for children who have suffered trauma or sexual abuse.”
We need more resources like this, and more people like Erin Hagerty, to help children learn to overcome at a young age rather than being traumatized well into adulthood.