Parental “trust” post-trauma

What follows is an allegory by Principal Clinical Psychologist, Colby Pearce, which forms part of how Colby helps young people understand parental care and protection and reframe “they no longer trust me” narratives following a traumatic event.

This is a story about a little dog who lived with a family much like yours and mine.

The family of the little dog lived in a conventional house on a conventional block in a conventional street.

The family was devoted to the little dog and it to them.

The little dog enjoyed freedom of movement inside and outside of the family home and never strayed from the property. Such was the trust of the owners of the little dog, the gate to the property was typically left open.

One day a neighbour’s dog strayed into the property where the little dog lived, cornering it in the front yard. The neighbour’s dog was large and aggressive. Frightened, for the first time in its life the little dog ran from the property of its owners. It was some hours before the little dog was found by a kindly stranger and returned to its family.

Thereafter, for a time, the owners of the little dog kept the gate to their property closed; not because they did not trust the little dog, but because they wanted to ensure that the neighbour’s dog did not enter their yard again.