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Meeting Children Where They Are: The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics

September 29th, 2022

In this practical introductory guide to Dr. Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, learn how adoptive parents and professionals can implement the wisdom of the NMT, particularly The Sequence of Engagement and the 6 R’s, by using practical neuroscience to guide their everyday work with and care for children and youth who have experienced trauma.

As an adoptive mom and child welfare professional, I have seen firsthand the incredible power of Dr. Bruce Perry’s groundbreaking insight into trauma treatment. On a stifling hot June afternoon, I cradled my 11-year-old son in the backseat of the car, rhythmically patting his back and rocking him after he asked to take a break from a birthday party at the video arcade. Years ago, the party would have ended after a loud, frightening, and embarrassing meltdown, but this day, he placed his hand on his chest and consciously slowed his breathing; I continued to rock in a strong, steady rhythm. Watching the tears roll slowly down his face, I noticed his body start to calm and relax, and after a time, he looked into my eyes and said, “I’m sorry, Mom, it was hot and so loud in there, and the other kids were all getting so many tickets. I felt jealous in my tummy.” He continued to take measured breaths, sat up, and began to play with the squishy fidget in his pocket. He waved out the window to his friends as they streamed out of the arcade to head home. Yes, I knew my boy was far more challenged than his friends by big emotions and transitions. I knew that most 11-year-olds could cope with and even enjoy the flashing lights, noise, and excitement of a day at the arcade, but after years of struggling to change his behavior through sticker charts, consequences, and lectures, this was a huge victory. These 12 minutes of my son’s life were the convergence of cutting-edge neuroscience and years of research in the areas of attachment, child development, and trauma. This was the Neurosequential Model in action. This was healing.

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About The Author
Allison Cooke Douglas, M.S. is the Resource Center Program Manager at Harmony Family Center in Knoxville, TN. She has been teaching for over two decades; starting her career as a Montessori trained early childhood educator. After seeing a need for robust, trauma informed education for foster families, Allison become the lead Parents as Tender Healers (PATH) training specialist in Knox County, TN facilitating classes for prospective foster parents. She has held a variety of positions in state and regional Foster and Adoption Care Advocacy groups, served as a team member on a Breakthrough Series Collaborative project focusing on trauma assessment and treatment for children under 4 and is a trainer for Tennessee’s Building Strong Brains: ACEs Initiative. Allison is certified in Phases I and II of The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, as well as in the Neurosequential Model in Education. She is currently a fellow in the Napa Infant-Parent & Early Childhood Mental Health Fellowship at U.C. Davis. She and her husband Jonathan are grateful to share their lives with their four children, adopted via foster care.