Severely Traumatized Siblings: A Treatment Strategy

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Abstract

Siblings who have suffered severe trauma and disrupted attachment relate to one another in ways that interfere with individual development, the chance to benefit from connections with adults, the establishment of healthy sibling relationships, and the working through of traumatic experiences. The authors use case examples to illustrate four distinct sibling patterns: “absent, adult lockout, half and half, and trauma shield.” The authors highlight the importance of recognizing these types and then varying the therapist's treatment stance to pursue five goals. These include suspending problematic sibling relationships to create room for bonding with caring adults, transferring attachment behaviors and impulses to a receptive adult, resuming healthy individual development, forming more adaptive sibling connections, and expressing shared traumatic content.

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