Current research shows that victims of childhood trauma are at increased risk for mental health concerns such as post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and suicide. Their caregivers also often experience substantial distress and issues such as anxiety and depression. This can lead to impaired parenting following the trauma their child experienced.
However, research also shows that healthy and supportive parents and caregivers play a critical role in the aftermath of traumatic events, and can greatly decrease the likelihood of these events leading to long-term issues.
Cumming's research, funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), evaluates the effectiveness of therapies designed to help parents and caregivers of child trauma victims. The effectiveness of such therapies is critical for the long-term health of both the child and parent or caregiver.
"How well a parent copes after his or her child experiences trauma directly influences how resilient that child can be," says Cummings. "However, there are no therapies that directly address parent's and children's needs. My research is addressing this gap."
Cummings uses ViTAL's videoconferencing capabilities and multi-angle cameras to analyze how individuals, such as children with post-traumatic stress disorder and their caregivers, interact in therapy sessions. She says the lab fills an important gap that in Saskatchewan's health care system, and her long-term goal is to develop integrated therapies that will treat children and parents together. More information can be found at the
U of S Stress and Wellness Lab's website: http://www.stressandwellnesslab.com/.
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