Real Life Heroes: Resiliency-focused Treatment for Children with Traumatic Stress (RLH)

Currently in Summary View
View Detailed Report
Scientific Rating:
Not able to be Rated
See scale of 1-5
Child Welfare System Relevance Level:
See descriptions of 3 levels

About This Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. Real Life Heroes: Resiliency-focused Treatment for Children with Traumatic Stress (RLH) has been reviewed by the CEBC in the area of: Trauma Treatment - Client-Level Interventions (Child & Adolescent), but lacks the necessary research evidence to be given a Scientific Rating.

Target Population: School-age children between ages 6-12 and adolescents functioning developmentally at a latency-level in social, emotional, or cognitive skills who have experienced traumatic events (including losses, family violence, disasters, severe medical illness, neglect, and emotional, physical and sexual abuse), have a breakdown in emotionally supportive relationships, and show symptoms of traumatic stress/Complex Trauma including high risk behaviors that threaten the safety of children, families, and communities

For children/adolescents ages: 6 – 18

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 6 – 18

Brief Description

Real Life Heroes (RLH) provides practitioners with easy-to-use tools including a life storybook, manual, multi-sensory creative arts, mindfulness, yoga, and ‘improv’ activities, and psychoeducation resources to engage children and caregivers in trauma treatment in a wide range of child and family service programs. RLH can be used with children who have symptoms of Complex Trauma, children who have had frequent hospitalizations, and children who lack caregivers who are able or willing to participate in trauma treatment. Acknowledgement or validation of traumas is not required to begin use of RLH. RLH helps practitioners reframe referrals based on symptoms and blame into a shared ‘journey,’ a ‘pathway’ to healing and recovery focused on restoring (or building) emotionally supportive and enduring relationships and promoting development of affect regulation and co-regulation skills for children and caregivers. To do this, the model utilizes the metaphor of the heroic quest and stresses the importance of engaging caregivers and a collaborative team of caring adults working together with an integrated trauma and resiliency-centered framework to help children with Complex Trauma. Creative arts, mindfulness, yoga, and ‘improv’ activities and shared life story work provide a means for children and caregivers to develop the safety, attunement, emotional support, and self- and co-regulation skills needed for re-integration of traumatic memories and for strengthening a child’s and caregiver’s self-esteem.

Program Goals:

The program goals of Real Life Heroes (RLH): Resiliency-focused Treatment for Children with Traumatic Stress are:

  • Increased child and caregiver well-being
  • Increased child developmental abilities
  • Decreased high-risk behaviors including self-abuse, suicide attempts, and aggression to others
  • Decreased number and length of temporary placements
  • Decreased number of psychiatric hospitalizations
  • Treatment goals include:
    • Increased safety for children and caregivers (psychological, physical, and emotional)
    • Rebuilding (or building) of emotionally supportive relationships with caregivers committed to nurturing, guiding, and protecting children
    • Self- and co-regulation development for children and caregivers including cognitive, emotional modulation, focusing/concentration, and social skills
    • Trauma memory reintegration matched to the child and caregivers’ capacity
    • Development of a positive self-identity for child linked to child’s family and cultural heritage
    • Prevention and management of disruptions of important relationships

    Contact Information

    Name: Richard Kagan, PhD
    Agency/Affiliation: Parsons Child and Family Center

    Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: December 2015

    Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: October 2014

    Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: September 2012