Symptomatic and Symbolic Expression of Trauma in War-Exposed Refugee Children

Tsuchigahata, M., M. Terradas, M., Papazian-Zohrabian, G., & Didier, O. (2023)

La psychiatrie de l'enfant

Vol. 66/Num. 02 | 36 p.

Research on trauma in war-exposed refugee children generally focuses on children’s symptoms but pays little attention to their subjective experience. Thus, there is a risk of underestimating the psychological consequences of the potentially traumatic events they were exposed to. The present study aims to integrate the personal history, the post-traumatic symptoms and the subjective trauma-related experiences assessed through free play and drawings to describe the psychic consequences of war-associated traumas in two refugee children. The results reveal that one of the children manifests post-traumatic symptoms, which is supported by the characteristics of his play activities and the themes that emerge from the play and the drawings. In the second child, however, there are no post-traumatic symptoms or obvious traces of trauma in play and drawing. The themes of the play instead indicate a need for protection and mourning one’s childhood.