n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Three-year-olds and attachment-related trauma - child's play?

Volume 11, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



This article is based on a sample of case studies. It presents a discussion of relevant developmental aspects of 3-year-olds in relation to understanding, investigating and treating the experience of interpersonal trauma. Their developing Theory of mind (ToM) and autobiographical memory are shown to be of particular relevance. It is suggested that opportunity for maturation in their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is allowed and individual processing monitored. The Internal Working Model (IWM) is considered as the basis of the developing personality and in the event of faulty appraisals as a result of trauma, it should be addressed. Unstructured play therapy is pointed out as the tool of choice and that parental guidance forms an integral part of intervention. Lastly, the importance of a well-functioning network of involved professionals should be recognised.

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