When Trauma Grips Our Children
The Basic Pyramid System for Counselors, Teachers, and Caregivers to Support Healing
by James E. Levine
January 2021, 139pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7473-4
$45, £35, 40€, A62
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7474-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

More than three percent of all children are estimated to qualify for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Less than half of them are receiving clinical help.

Aimed at school staff and other caregivers on the front lines of providing assistance without in-depth training or an understanding of how trauma manifests, this book offers a detailed approach to helping children who have experienced trauma.

Trauma in children varies in how it presents—in behavior, emotions, learning, and social interactions—and how to address it depends largely on its presentation. Children may exhibit many types of behavior that could be attributed to trauma, such as telling lies and feeling shame, lacking focus or having outbursts in class, and distrusting peers and adults, among many more.

When you read this book, you’ll learn how to support a child with severe trauma by employing a sensitive yet structured approach. Discussion of a kaleidoscope of case studies using the new Basic Pyramid model, developed by the author, will help you to determine appropriate intervention.


  • Introduces a new intervention model used as the basis of care for children with trauma
  • Offers clear application of intervention practices in case studies
  • Emphasizes the link between trauma, behavior, learning, emotions, and social interaction skills among children
  • Demonstrates that supportive action can produce positive responses in children with trauma
James E. Levine, PhD, LICSW, is founding director of a multi-disciplinary group of more than 30 clinicians that consults for more than 45 school districts and offers an array of testing services and delivers outpatient psychotherapy to more than a thousand individuals and families per month. He provides clinical consultation, supervision, and professional development across the U.S., mainly focusing on the intersection of trauma, related mental health concerns, and learning and behavior. He is author of Learning from Behavior: How to Help "Challenging" Children in School. https://jameslevinephd.com/


"Dr. Levine’s book will not only be a welcome tool to therapists and teachers, it will be their daily detailed guide in their difficult work of treating troubled children. Most children are troubled some of the time, or at some stages of growing up and parents will also welcome many of the offered suggestions. I especially appreciated the affection and respect that this author shows in all his treatment recommendations. We are fortunate to have such a gift from a deeply experienced clinician." —Sophie Freud, PhD, Professor Emerita

“This is a remarkable book. Counselors, teachers, and other caregivers can often struggle to make sense of behaviors that, at face value, seem so counter-intuitive. Traumatized kids can lash out when one tries to help them, sabotage relationships that appear supportive, regress into actions of a much younger child and many other reactions that seem odd to a non-traumatized person. Jim provides a plain English roadmap to allow one to navigate such difficult terrain, based on years of practical experience. I believe anyone that is working with traumatized children should read this book.” —Paul Podolsky, Author of Raising a Thief

When Trauma Grips Our Children is an excellent book that educators, therapists, parents, and anybody working with children who struggle should read. By thoughtfully analyzing the root causes of the behavior of children who have suffered from all sorts of trauma, Dr. Levine provides practical and effective ways to support the many kids who have suffered and minimize further trauma. I particularly appreciated how readable this was for someone like me who is not an educator or a therapist. In addition, the book’s many stories about children that the author has worked with and acknowledgement of what he learned from his patients adds to the tremendous value and readability of the book.” —Joanne Marqusee, President and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Health Care; Parent of an Adult on the Autism Spectrum

"Anyone – teachers, counselors, other caregivers – faced with children’s or adolescents’ complicated, challenging behaviors should read this book. And if you find yourself uncomfortable with interventions that feel too punishing and lacking empathy or are frustrated with so-called tried-and-true methods that are ultimately ineffective, you should keep this book near and refer to it often. Having so many years of clinical experience with children - with trauma histories, autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and virtually every other behavioral health difficulty - enabled Dr. Levine to design a system of intervention that can be effective with any struggling child. This is a framework that is applicable to classrooms and many other settings. Every time I found myself thinking 'Yes, but what about…' I found the answer. In short, this is a new way to conceptualize challenging behavior that is critical for us to consider closely and thoughtfully."—Roger Anderson, LICSW, retired clinician, clinical supervisor, and program administrator for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and persistent behavioral health challenges

"Dr. James Levine has demystified understanding and responding to children struggling with trauma for anyone working to help. When Trauma Grips Our Children uses relatable real-world examples from Dr. Levine's decades of experience to transform clinical terminology into easily understandable language for the rest of us. Dr. Levine offers insight into why our common, and well-intentioned, approaches to help children often fall short. While the arrival of this book could not be timelier, I am confident that it will long serve as a staple resource for school practitioners in our increasingly traumatic world. This book should be required reading for every aspiring and veteran classroom teacher, paraprofessional, special education provider, counselor, and school administrator, as well as any parents hoping to reach a child gripped in the psychological aftermath of trauma."—Dr. William E. Collins, Superintendent of Schools, Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District, NY
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