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Heart to Heart: Helping children cope with trauma

The staff at Audrey Grace House works tirelessly to help children who come in.

ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) - Many children who are taken from their families and into the foster care system, have gone through some type of trauma, whether it be physical, mental or sexual abuse.

In the hopes of teaching the children how to cope, one of New Horizon's residential homes, the Audrey Grace House, stations therapists in the home. They are there throughout the day to work with these children., to build relationships and safety.

"Letting them know you're loved. Even if you spill a glass of milk, we're not going to yell at you or hit you in this home," therapist Crystal Leake said.

The staff at Audrey Grace House works tirelessly to help children who come in.

"A lot of times, the kids that we have, have been through a lot of traumatic events. Many times, many have been physically and sexually abused with a lot of that trauma and what we want to do is help them heal from that trauma," communications and grants director, Hannah Wiginton said.

Helping them cope from unsafe family situations and continuing to build relationships with the children who have come from a situation where they never knew what was going to happen next.

"To be able to be there and be the person who has enough guts and just listen to their story, that to me is not easy. It's not easy work but it's really fulfilling," Leake said.

Leake said she enjoys seeing the growth of these children.

"A few months later, you see they work through that and you see them smiling and laughing, having success at school, feeling self-confidence," Leake said.

She said a few of therapy methods that are used on the kids are trust-based relational interventional therapy (TBRI), reality therapy, music therapy and play therapy.

We're going to find those opportunities to show them we love them no matter what mistakes they make," Leake said.

Leake recommends an outpatient therapist for a short time, until the child adjusts to their new home after being adopted.

"It's always good though, at first because there's so much structure, and intensity in a residential setting, that's higher than a typical home setting. That adjustment is a little bit difficult for children. Especially kids who have been through the amount of trauma that you would see here," Leake said.

She said the biggest thing is to be patient with a child when wanting them to open up.

"You don't know the history of your child all the time. You know what might have been said, but the child will eventually tell you," Leake said.

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