Real Life Heroes® (RLH) is a resilency-focused treatment program for children and families with toxic stress and Complex Trauma. RLH provides practitioners with easy-to-use tools including a life storybook, manual, multi-sensory creative arts activities, and psycho education resources to engage children and families in evidence-supported trauma treatment. Practitioners can use RLH to reframe referrals based on pathologies 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 skills for children, parents and other caregivers. Creative arts, movement activities, and shared life story work provide a means for children and families to develop the safety, attunement and trust needed for re-integration of traumatic memories.
Real Life Heroes® focuses on 'relational healing for relational traumas' and can be used to engage hard-to-reach children and families with principles of 'the heroes journey' (Campbell) and tools that highlight child, parent/caregiver, and cultural strengths.
RLH tools can be readily incorporated into other evidence-supported trauma treatment models to help strengthen interventions or overcome obstacles to treatment in diverse programs.
Practitioners can use RLH to increase children’s attachments with parents and other caregivers and pride in their abilities, family, and cultural heritage as ‘antidotes to shame’ (Herman, 2011).
RLH focuses on the developmental needs of children ages 6-12 and has been successful with adolescents with Complex PTSD who have delays in their social, emotional or cognitive development, intellectual deficits or disabilities.
The RLH Treatment Model includes a workbook and session rituals which provide an easy-to-learn and transferable structure that allows children, parents, and other caregivers to continue trauma treatment if they move between programs or practitioners and includes primary roles for residential counselors, parents, resource parents, mentors, and other caring adults.
The RLH Toolkit can be used to assure implementation of NCTSN-recommended components of treatment for Complex Trauma and trauma-informed child welfare services including Family First. RLH core components (Relationships, Emotional Self and Co-regulation, Action Cycles, and Life Story Integration) which provide an integrated framework from referral and assessment through service planning, treatment sessions, treatment reviews, three-month outcome evaluations, and discharge with fidelity tools to support supervisors and ensure implementation of ‘best practice’ treatment for Complex Trauma and toxic stress.
RLH provides ‘ready-to-go’ tools for hard-pressed practitioners including step-by-step guides for developing self and co-regulation with slow breathing, yoga, movement, ‘improv’, and storytelling activities that promote child-caregiver attunement and trust.
The model guides flexible adaptation of tools to engage a wide range of families and adjust for changes in a child and caregiver’s stability to maintain safety and progress in treatment.
RLH can often be used with children who have not been willing to participate in, or have been excluded from, trauma-focused treatments including children with suspected traumas that have not been acknowledged or validated, children who have had frequent hospitalizations, and children whose caregivers have not been able or willing to work in trauma-focused treatment.
RLH treatment has been successfully implemented for 20 years in a wide range of child and family services, behavioral health and school-based treatment programs and can be used to jumpstart development and implementation of trauma-informed and resiliency-focused services for children and families with Complex Trauma. RLH training and consultation programs have successfully engaged and trained practitioners and programs with limited time for training. Follow up surveys have found high rates of practitioner use and sustainability after training. RLH is also easily adapted for diverse families and can be used in home-based, clinic-based, residential, foster care and adoption programs. RLH was developed and tested with children who did not meet the criteria for many treatment models or were not improving with other trauma-informed interventions which focused primarily on the child’s development of self-regulation skills and desensitization of traumatic memories. RLH can be used with children who have not yet disclosed primary traumatic experiences or where suspected traumas have not been acknowledged or validated, and with children living in placement programs (or at high risk of placement) who lack safe, non-offending caregivers who are able and willing to participate in trauma-focused therapy.
“I have so many more people in my life that can help me now. I am not alone anymore.” - 12-year old boy in foster family care
“Heroes has inspired me to be something I did not think I could be 10 months ago. I thought I was going to give up, fall into a hole, have kids (young) and be like my mother. . . . I am my own hero . . . And now I will be someone and I hope to inspire others!" -15-year old girl in a home-based prevention of placement program who was helped to return to family living after living with a family friend and placement in two group care programs.
"I really like the centering activities . . . I have used them in my own recovery, and I have noticed a big difference they have made in my son's anger.“ --Parent at a child and family guidance clinic
"I gave her (the foster care clinician) a hard time about doing it (Real Life Heroes) in the beginning, but once I did it, I really liked it!" -Birth parent in a foster family cCare program.
“This has been the most successful implementation of any treatment model we’ve offered.” -Director of Training and Quality Improvement for a state-wide child welfare and behavioral health care agency
“It’s not one more thing. It’s the thing.” -Home-based intensive case management program director
“I have heard nothing but wonderful things about RLH from the staff! Sometimes a training may be well received, but it still isn’t something you see implemented very consistently. So it is especially wonderful to know that the staff are utilizing RLH.” -Clinic Director
Real Life Heroes® is listed in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the SAMHSA National Center for Trauma-Informed Care "Models for Developing Trauma-Informed Behavioral Health Systems and Trauma-Specific Services," and as one of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s (NCTSN) Empirically Supported Treatments and Promising Practices. RLH is also listed as ‘High’ in Child Welfare System Relevance by the California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare. The 2007 RLH Practitioner’s Manual was rated as addressing 8 of 9 core domains identified as essential Intervention Objectives and Practice Elements developed by the NCTSN Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma Task Force (Strand, Hansen, & Layne, 2012). The only domain missing, Therapist Self-Care, has been included in RLH training programs since 2007. The RLH model has been successfully pilot tested in home-based and placement child welfare services, and behavioral health care (Kagan,Douglas, Hornik, & Kratz, 2008) and utilized in a wide range of child and family service agencies in the U.S. and Canada. The HEROES Project, a SAMHSA-funded community practice site of the NCTSN, evaluated use of Real Life Heroes in seven child and family service programs and found significant reductions in traumatic stress and behavioral problems on standardized measures. This study involved training all staff, rather then just selected practitioners, and did not exclude children with aggressive or self-abusive behaviors, children who lacked validation for traumas or children who lacked caregivers who were able and willing to participate in treatment. Children receiving RLH in this study did not have placements or psychiatric hospitalizations (Kagan, Henry, Richardson, Trinkle & Lafrenier, 2014).
In my work as a clinical psychologist, children have shared with me traumatic experiences that ripped their families apart and shattered their sense of trust and belonging. These same children have also shared with me a yearning to be loved and the courage to change. I have been inspired by how children recovered from losses of the family members they loved, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, family violence, neglect, and abandonments. I have also seen how many children remained mired in the nightmares of their lives and appeared to relive their greatest fears day after day. Many children appeared cut off from emotionally supportive relationships with caring adults and appeared to repeat the abuse and violence they had experienced in their own behaviors. Dangerous behaviors led to referrals to child welfare services, juvenile justice programs or mental health treatment centers.
My job as a psychologist was to engage these children and their families and to find a way to understand what had happened and what could be done to help them. Rather than viewing these children as helpless victims or frightening aggressors, I learned to listen and watch for clues to what made these children smile and what led to dangerous behaviors. From these children, their parents, caregivers, and my colleagues, I learned lessons about what could be done to transform their lives. I also learned how their stories of trauma and recovery could inspire all of us.
Each child and family I have worked with has taught me a lesson of how ordinary people can rise up to surmount tragedies. Working with children and families who have experienced traumas has broadened my understanding of the impact of traumatic stress and what is possible for everyone. Very often, the worst traumas involved the breakdown of a child’s trust in parents, guardians, and other adults to keep themselves and their families safe. Many children appeared cut off from emotionally supportive relationships with caring adults and appeared to repeat the abuse and violence they had experienced in their own behaviors. Parents, grandparents, teachers, counselors and other caring adults often felt threatened by children’s behavioral reactions after multiple traumas. Caring adults often felt disempowered and unable to re-connect with troubled children. At the same time, troubled children often felt increasingly alone and desperate with little hope.
I developed the Real Life Heroes treatment model to expand the reach of evidence-supported trauma treatment programs and to provide tools that practitioners can use to engage hard-to-reach children and parents/caregivers. I wrote my most recent books, The Hero’s Mask novel and The Hero’s Mask Guidebook (Routledge, 2020) to create openings for parents, teachers, therapists, and other caring adults to encourage children to share what may be hidden from adults--what leads to their joy, what they yearn for, who they admire, and what drives their fears. These books build on what I have learned from children, families, and colleagues, my own experience with grief, and ten previously published professional and trade books: Families in Perpetual Crisis with Shirley Schlosberg (Norton, 1989), Turmoil to Turning Points; Building Hope for Children in Crisis Placements (Norton, 1996), Wounded Angels; Lessons from Children in Crisis (Child & Family Press, 2003); Rebuilding Attachments with Traumatized Children; Healing from Losses, Violence, Abuse, and Neglect (Routledge,2004), the Real Life Heroes Life Storybook 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions (Routledge, 2004, 2007, 2017), the Real Life Heroes Practitioner’s Manual (Routledge, 2004), the Real Life Heroes Toolkit for Treating Traumatic stress in Children and Families (Routledge, 2017), and Wounded Angels; Inspiration from Children in Crisis (Routledge, 2017). I have also published 35+ articles, chapters, and papers and media recordings on practice and research issues in trauma therapy, child welfare, foster care, adoption, training implementation, program evaluation, and quality improvement in family service and behavioral health treatment programs.
Wounded Angels; Inspiration from Children in Crisis, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 2017), is a book about what we can learn from children who have moved beyond tragedies to fight for what they, their siblings, and their parents need. Their stories highlight the role that courage and caring can play for people of all ages and circumstances- and the rich forces in our lives that have the potential to promote healing for all of us. The children, caregivers, and practitioners I have met led me to develop Real Life Heroes, a resiliency-focused treatment program for traumatic stress.
Real Life Heroes® (RLH) is a practitioner-developed and evidence-supported treatment program that has been successfully implemented in a wide range of child and family service, educational, and mental health treatment programs for over 15 years. RLH provides practitioners with easy-to-use tools including a life storybook, practitioner’s manual, multi-sensory creative arts activities, and psycho education resources to engage children and caregivers in evidence-supported trauma treatment. RLH helps practitioners reframe referrals based on pathologies and blame into a shared ‘journey,’ a ‘pathway’ to healing and recovery. The RLH Toolkit for Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Families, 2nd Ed (2017) includes assessment, service and session planning guidelines that promote integrated treatment and teamwork focused on restoring (or building) emotionally supportive and enduring relationships and promoting development of affect regulation skills for children and caregivers. Creative arts, movement activities, and shared life story work provide a means for children and caregivers to develop the safety and attunement needed for re-integration of traumatic memories.
The 3rd Edition of the Real Life Heroes Life Storybook (2017) includes three new chapters, a revised chapter organization, and revised workbook activities based on research findings, suggestions from children and caregivers, and recommendations from practitioners. The 3rd Edition engages children and caregivers with therapeutic activities which promote self and co-regulation, trauma and resiliency psycho-education, increased mind-body awareness, and trauma memory integration. Used together, the Real Life Heroes Life Storybook and the Real Life Heroes Toolkit for Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Familiesfacilitate implementation of recommended ‘best practice’ components of treatment for traumatic stress and Complex Trauma. Both books highlight how practitioners and treatment programs can successfully engage and assist children and families with traumatic stress to transform their lives.
My publications and training programs have been enriched by my experience in non-profit child and family services as Director of Professional Development, QI, Research, and Psychological Services at Parsons Child and Family Center and Northern Rivers in Albany, New York, and Principal Investigator for two SAMHSA-funded National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) grants. In the NCTSN, I have been an active member of the NCTSN Steering Committee, the NCTSN Affiliate Advisory Board, the Complex Trauma, Parent Trauma and Child Welfare Committees and the Trauma-Informed Organizational Assessment Advisory Group. I founded and co-chaired the NCTSN Resource Parent Committee and co-led development of the NCTSN curriculum, Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Traumatic Stress which has been used in child welfare programs across the United States.
I am currently writing as well as providing consultation and training on traumatic stress and complex trauma treatment. My training programs, presentations, articles, and books highlight practical and innovative approaches that therapists, caregivers, programs, and clinics can utilize to help children and families strengthen resilience and reduce traumatic stress.
Real Life Heroes Training and Consultation Programs have been developed and tested for effective dissemination and implementation in behavioral health, educational and child and family service agencies with limited time and funding for training programs. Training programs utilize a program-centered ‘All-practitioner’ model of training which is adapted for each sponsoring organization.
Training programs build on organizational strengths, previous trauma treatment training, and staff expertise. Use of the Real Life Heroes Toolkit and Life Storybook enables practitioners to learn and implement materials quickly and ensures implementation of National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) recommended components of evidence-supported treatment for Complex PTSD and child welfare services. Fidelity is promoted with tools provided in the RLH Toollkit and supported through consultation with supervisors and directors and development of program-centered procedures and policies and a trauma-informed learning community.
Training Programs on Treatment of Complex Trauma have successfully engaged and trained practitioners and programs with limited time for training and a wide range of skills and previous training. Follow- up surveys have found high rates of practitioner use and sustainability after training in child welfare and behavioral health programs serving high risk youths who have experienced multiple types of traumas. Training programs are offered through on line platforms, e.g. zoom, during the Covid pandemic. Video-streamed programs can be adjusted for organizations of all sizes with reduced rates to make these viable for small groups and organizations. Post-covid, training programs will again be provided on site and can be adjusted for a wide range of programs.
To help children and adults learn about toxic stress and complex trauma and what can help, practical steps that families, schools and treatment programs can utilize to promote recovery and resilience.
To help children, parents and other caring adults find ways to re-integrate traumatic experiences and on-going fears that have torn them apart and transform traumatized children and parents/caregivers into tomorrow’s heroes.
To provide tools for hard-pressed practitioners to engage hard-to-reach children and parents/caregivers who have learned to distrust authorities and service providers.
To help treatment programs increase engagement and inclusion of hard-to-reach children and families and reduce attrition in evidence-supported trauma treatment.
Kagan, R. (2021). The Hero’s Mask. London: Routledge Press.
Kagan, R. (2021). The Hero’s Mask Guidebook; Helping Children with Traumatic Stress. London: Routledge Press.
The Hero’s Mask novel traces an 11-year old girl’s discovery of strengths within herself, her family and her friends and how she is inspired by a new teacher who helps her learn the secrets of heroes. The novel engages middle grade readers and their parents/caregivers to uncover mysteries and illustrates how parent-child relationships can wither when families experience hard times and how they can be renewed or rebuilt. This is a book about overcoming fears and healing the wounds separating a mother and daughter, both scarred by traumatic grief. The Hero’s Mask and The Hero’s Mask Guidebook; Helping Children with Traumatic Stress provide a two-part resource that illustrates how a resiliency-focused understanding of toxic stress can be utilized to bring children and caring adults back together and what schools and other organizations can do to promote healing.
Teachers, counselors, therapists, parents and caregivers can use this engaging novel and guidebook to help to promote resilience within children, families and communities that have experienced traumatic stress.
The novel encourages children to learn about everyday heroes and what helps them to succeed despite adversity. The accompanying guidebook provides practical advice and strategies for using the novel in classrooms, counselling, therapy and families to spark conversations around difficult topics of loss and trauma and to strengthen and renew emotionally supportive relationships for distressed children.
These two books provide a toolkit for helping children and caring adults understand the impact of traumatic stress and what can help them to recover and increase resilience after stressful experiences. Together, the novel and guidebook inspire hope for those who feel alone, fearful or ashamed after traumatic experiences and show how children, parents, and other caring adults can become stronger than the nightmares of the past.
This set includes:
This essential resource provides a resiliency-focused guide for promoting trauma-informed schools and child and family services to help children and families experiencing traumatic stress.
"The Hero’s Mask tells the story of children becoming heroes! It will inspire all who read it to face and overcome challenges with courage and bravery. The Hero’s Mask is not about what has happened to you but who you can become. The Hero’s Mask Guidebookcombines research on the impact of trauma with a magical unfolding of the individual uniqueness and beauty of each child. It integrates theory, knowledge, and evidence-based practice with a soul depth that transcends the moment and calls us to be our ’best’ selves to children. It provides a sacred pathway for child, parent, and adult healing." -James Henry, Ph.D. Professor of Social Work and Project Director, Children’s Trauma Assessment Center, Western Michigan University.
"In the tradition of Joseph Campbell, George Lucas, and J.K. Rowling, Dr. Kagan uses the stories of heroes to illustrate how children can go through difficult times, learn from past mistakes, find strength in friendship, cope with the fear, discomfort, and paralysis of traumatic reminders, and become heroes in their own lives. He also illustrates in very practical ways how adults can nurture a child’s inner resilience by showing grace and compassion, guiding them to shape their own narrative and make heroic choices.
In The Hero’s Mask, Dr. Kagan tells a story that children will love, full of mystery and friendship, bullies and heroism. Through that story children can relate to a hero in Carrie, whose relationships help her to overcome her fears and understand the strength she and her friends have to make a difference in other’s lives. Through Carrie’s story, children can understand the power of connection and engagement as paths towards healing and heroism." -Jane Halladay Goldman, Ph.D., Director, Service Systems Program, UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.
"The Hero’s Mask is an engaging and timely novel about the impact of traumatic loss on children and much of what it takes for them to heal: good friends, nurturing adults, cultural wisdom, personal courage—and the power of storytelling itself. The companion Guidebookis a rich resource for caregivers, teachers, and counselors wanting to engage in deeper understanding and the difficult conversations that can support children through these toughest times." -Martha B. Straus, Ph.D., Professor, Antioch University and author of Treating Trauma in Adolescents: Development, Attachment, and the Therapeutic Relationship.
"In his novel, The Hero’s Mask, Dr. Kagan beautifully demonstrates the profound power of connection in promoting healing and resilience. Through his characters and the theme of a hero’s journey, he is able to bring the thematic of loss, human stress and the role of relationship to life in a context that is relatable to young people and the caregivers who support them. This novel along with the practical guidebook for parents and professionals is a unique tool written by someone who has clearly dedicated a career to understanding trauma, attachment, resilience and young people! Youth serving systems, families and children alike will benefit from this approach." -Kristine M. Kinniburgh, LCSW, Director of Trauma Services, Justice Resource Institute Connecticut, National trauma trainer and consultant, The Trauma Center at JRI. ARC Co-Developer and Co-author of Treating traumatic stress in children and adolescents; How to foster resilience through attachment, self-regulation, and competency (Guilford Press).
"The Hero’s Mask is a very engaging, age-appropriate, and inspiring novel for middle grade children, especially for those who have experienced traumatic losses, bullying, disengaged parents and harsh authority figures. The central characters are multi-dimensional and relatable, and the narrative moves forward in an adept, fast-paced manner that will engage most young readers. The Hero’s Mask and the accompanying Guidebook represent a significant contribution to an understanding of children’s trauma and actions that can be taken to reduce and resolve trauma." -Cheryl Lanktree, Ph.D., Adolescent Trauma Training Center, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California.
"For children and young teens who are feeling a lot of big emotions and are struggling to be understood, follow Carrie, the "hero" of The Hero’s Mask, as she puts the feelings shared by so many others into words. This novel beautifully describes the way stress and trauma can show up in our bodies and affect our relationships with family and peers. Young readers learn with Carrie as she begins to connect the dots between her thoughts, feelings, and behaviors--to change the direction of her own story for the better.
The Hero’s Mask is a great resource for schools that illustrates what students are really experiencing, how this affects their ability to learn and their behavior in the classroom, and the transformative role that educators can play. The accompanying Guidebook provides educators with a framework for understanding trauma-informed schools, as well as a structured approach for using The Hero’s Mask with students in the classroom." -Jenifer Maze, PhD, Deputy Director, UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.
"In writing The Hero’s Mask and Helping Children with Traumatic Stress, Dr. Kagan offers a gift to children and families who have experienced trauma and to the caregivers, educators, and therapists who support these families. The Hero’s Mask works as a standalone piece of literature with its well-developed characters and salient themes of interpersonal, community, and cultural adversity, trauma, and loss. Through 11-year-old Carrie and the other children and adults in her life, many readers will identify with the somatic, emotional, and behavioral experiences associated with trauma and will gain a narrative of hope, possibility, and healing through connection. Helping Children with Traumatic Stress, a companion resource to The Hero’s Mask, offers accessible evidence-informed tools to support children and families in their journey of healing from trauma. Caregivers, educators, and therapists will find the curriculum guide with its specific objectives and activities invaluable in supporting connections with children and in providing developmentally-appropriate, culturally-sensitive, trauma-informed care." -Mindy Kronenberg, Ph.D., IMH-E®, Clinical Psychologist and Adjunct Professor, University of Memphis, Co-Editor of Treating Traumatized Children: A Casebook of Evidence-based Therapies.
"Brilliant psychoeducation on trauma, resilience and the power of relationships disguised as a middle grade novel. Reading The Hero’s Mask together should stimulate supportive and healing discussions between middle schoolers and their adult mentors. Overall a wonderful therapeutic resource!" -Laurel J. Kiser, Ph.D., M.B.A., Associate Professor, Division of Psychiatric Services Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"The Hero’s Mask, written by a national expert in child traumatic stress, creatively addresses important ways educators, professionals, and caregivers can support a child dealing with pain from trauma and adversity. The Guidebook follows along with the novel as Carrie, our middle school role model, engages us with her courage and personality in facing overwhelming feelings, trauma triggers, and broken connections with family and peers that often occur when trauma and grief impact our youth. Kagan’s text offer guidance and inspiration to important adults in children’s lives to use the power of their relationships in informed, healing, and transformative ways." -Lisa Amaya-Jackson, MD, MPH, Deputy Director, UCLA-Duke National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.
"The Hero’s Mask books go beyond the growing awareness of ACES and provide practical tools that concerned parents, teachers, counselors and therapists can use to rebuild the emotionally supportive relationships children need to thrive after experiences of hardship and trauma. The novel engages children and caring adults to experience adversity through the eyes of a child including what can help and what can hurt a troubled child. The Guidebook provides a curriculum for exploration of heroes that can help children, classrooms and schools to take steps to prevent or reduce traumatic stress. Together, these books provide essential resources for trauma-informed schools and programs." -Heather Larkin Halloway, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Social Welfare, State University of New York at Albany.
"Richard Kagan weaves together story with trauma-informed principles and interventions. As the reader learns about Carrie, her history, her challenges, and her strengths, they are learning important lessons about stress and trauma that they can apply to themselves or those around them. His metaphor of the mask is powerful, and through story, he offers dialogues about heroes, fear and how it affects us, the importance of taking a stand, reaching out for support, and showing up as your authentic self. These dialogues are core to both trauma treatments and trauma-informed systems, and it is refreshing to see them embraced in a story. Children, parents, and teachers will benefit from reading The Hero’s Mask, and I strongly believe it will help them open doors to important conversations that lead to healing." -Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D., Associate Director, Child Trauma Research Program, University of California, San Francisco.
Available from Routledge Press: https://www.routledge.com/The-Hero-s-Mask--Helping-Children-with-Traumatic-Stress-A-Resource/Kagan/p/book/9780367474287
Also available from Amazon.com.
Kagan, R. (2017). Real Life Heroes Life Storybook, 3rd Edition. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kagan, R. (2017). Real Life Heroes Toolkit for Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Families, 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kagan, R. (2017). Wounded Angels; Inspiration from Children in Crisis, 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kagan, R. (2004). Rebuilding Attachments with Traumatized Children; Healing from Losses, Violence, Abuse and Neglect. New York, NY: Routledge Press.
Kagan, R., Henry, J., Richardson, M., Trinkle, J., & LaFrenier, A. (2014). Evaluation of Real Life Heroes Treatment for Children with Complex PTSD. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 6 (5), 588-596.
Kagan, R. & Spinazzola, J. (2013). Real Life Heroes in Residential Treatment; Implementation of Trauma and Attachment-Focused Treatment for Children and Adolescents with Complex PTSD. Journal of Family Violence.Volume 28 (7), 705-715.
Ford, J., Blaustein, M., Habib, M., & Kagan, R. (2013). Developmental Trauma Therapy Models. In J. D. Ford & C. A. Courtois (Ed.) Treating complex traumatic stress disorders in children and adolescents; Scientific foundations and therapeutic models. New York: Guilford Press.
Kagan, R. (2009). Transforming Troubled Children into Tomorrow’s Heroes. Chapter in Brom, D., Pat-Horenczyk, R. & Ford , J. (Eds.) Treating traumatized children: Risk, resilience and recovery. New York: Routledge.
Kagan, R., Douglas, A., Hornik, J., & Kratz, S. (2008). Real Life HeroesPilot Study: Evaluation of a Treatment Model for Children with Traumatic Stress. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma,1:1, 5-22.
TheReal Life Heroes Life Storybook, 3rd Edition, engages children with traumatic stress in evidence-supported trauma treatment including children with Complex Trauma, hard-to-reach youths with severe behavior problems, and adolescents who are delayed in their social, emotional, and cognitive development. The resiliency-centered format of the Life Storybook is coupled with Real Life Heroes treatment outlined in the Real Life Heroes Toolkit for Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Families. Together, the Life Storybook and Toolkit provide therapists and treatment programs with easy-to-use strategies and activities to broaden each child and caregivers’ "therapeutic window" for skill development and trauma memory integration.
The Real Life Heroes Life Storybook promotes development of safety and trust to counter traumatic stress reactions stemming from abuse, neglect, losses, domestic violence, and other interpersonal traumas. Chapters of the Life Storybook address recommended core components of evidence-supported treatment for children with Complex Trauma and treatment of children in child welfare programs. Real Life Heroes can also be used with children and families who have not been engaged in trauma-focused treatment.
This thoroughly updated edition uses a creative arts approach that encourages children to work with caring adults to develop autobiographies through a wide range of activities, including drawings, music, movies, and narrative. Use of the Life Storybook fosters positive values and a sense of pride in children as they form a stronger bond with caring and committed adults and protection from adversity and stressors. The Life Storybook strengthens children’s sense of identity connected to emotionally supportive caregivers and can be used to reduce traumatic stress reactions and behavioral problems, transforming troubled children into tomorrow's heroes.
“Real Life Heroes is a resiliency masterpiece. Built on the historical hero archetype, Dr. Kagan invites traumatized children and caregivers to acknowledge their courage, express their sorrow, and embrace the hero’s path to healing. Real Life Heroes provides creative resiliency based interventions that guide traumatized children and families through their pain into recovery by discovering and utilizing their internal strengths and significant personal relationships to overcome adversity and become the real heroes of their own lives.”-Jim Henry Ph.D., Professor, School of Social Work and Director, Children’s Trauma Assessment Center, Western Michigan University
“The third edition of the Real Life Heroes Life Storybook is an impressive continuation of Dr. Kagan’s already long list of contributions to supporting stronger, healthier, and more resourced outcomes of young people who have experienced traumatic stress. Through the use of ritual, psycho-education, expressive strategies, skill-building, narrative, and relational engagement, the workbook provides a powerful tool to promote healing in trauma-impacted youth. The language in the workbook is child, caregiver, and provider-friendly, and the facilitated process of self-examination is empowering rather than pathologizing. Dr. Kagan truly believes that every child and every caregiver has the potential to be a hero—and that ‘heroism’ is often found in every day actions—and this vision shines through in his work.” -Margaret Blaustein, Ph.D., Director of Training and Education, The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute and Co-author, Treating traumatic stress in Children and Adolescents.
“Real Life Heroes Life Storybook and Toolkit provides an effective step by step process for clinicians and caregivers to guide children and family members in making sense of the pain in their lives that is due to past trauma. The process provided in RLH is comprehensive in its treatment components. However what strikes me most is how it very tenderly and carefully enables the survivor to recognize that their memories and the subsequent resulting emotions move/fluctuate and will need some anchoring based in the reality of their innocence. In addition, RLH enables practice for survivors in how to effectively handle the sensory-based triggers that will assault them in the future. As the lead developer of the Family Centered Treatment® model of home base treatment that has provided treatment for over 30k families, most of whom came with trauma histories, I can unequivocally recommend both the RLH Life Storybook and Toolkit for practitioners.”-William E Painter Jr., M.S., Senior Director of Clinical Practice, Child and Family Center of Excellence, Institute for Family Centered Services / The Mentor Network
The Real Life Heroes Life Storybook, 3rdEdition, can be purchased from Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Real-Life-Heroes-Storybook/dp/0415518040/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1534103550&sr=8-1&keywords=Real+Life+Heroes+Life+Storybook other book sellers or directly from Routledge Press https://www.routledge.com/Real-Life-Heroes-Life-Storybook/Kagan/p/book/9780415518048
Routledge provides discounts for sales of over 10 books and for organizational purchases. Discounts may be obtained by contacting John Defalco, Routledge Account Manager, at: email@example.com or call: 917-351-7128.
The Real Life Heroes Toolkit for Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Families, 2nd Edition, provides an easy-to-use resource for therapists, counselors and programs serving children and families with toxic stress and Complex Trauma. This step-by-step guide is matched to the Real Life Heroes Life Storybook, 3rd Edition, and provides practitioners with practical tools for helping children and families to reintegrate painful memories and to foster healing from traumatic experiences and disrupted attachments. Resources include tools for trauma and resiliency-centered assessments, service planning, fidelity and supervision as well as detailed guides to implementing creative arts, mindfulness, 'improv,' and movement in sessions that can be provided in home-based, clinic, school, or residential programs. This book is a go-to resource for practitioners in child and family service agencies and treatment centers to implement trauma-informed, resiliency-centered and evidence-supported services for children and caregivers with traumatic stress. The RLH Toolkit also provides a rich resource to supplement use of other evidence-supported treatment models to engage, and sustain engagement, of hard-to-reach children and caregivers.
“This amazing compendium of a complex trauma treatment guide, its adaptations for special trauma populations, tools, and handouts, facilitates RLH as both a stand-alone treatment and as a supplement for other EBTs, with any of Kagan’s toolkit components able to be used to assist in meeting the trauma-specific needs of youth. With an empiricism and solid conventional frameworks used in the NCTSN for meeting the needs of childhood trauma, this second edition is a wonderful resource for clinicians at all levels of experience.”-Lisa Amaya-Jackson, M.D., MPH, Professor and Associate director, UCLA-Duke National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Duke University School of Medicine
“This revised edition of Dr. Kagan’s highly acclaimed book provides an exciting expansion of his innovative approach, Real Life Heroes. A comprehensive and practical guide, it offers an important toolkit for clinicians working with traumatized children and their caregivers. It provides invaluable material from the resiliency-focused assessment to practical guidelines and structured session activities that make it a unique addition to the field of complex trauma interventions with children. I strongly recommend this book.”-Cheryl Lanktree, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor and Project Director, University of Southern California Adolescent Trauma Training Center.
“Richard Kagan knows how to have a relationship that supports trauma recovery. With the Real Life Heroes Toolkit, he gives therapists, not just an intervention model, but the scaffolding to build therapeutic relationships with the children they treat and those who love them. Grounded in the science and art of psychotherapy, the RLH Toolkit helps therapists and clients navigate through tough times, find their strength, and create the future.”-Brad Stolbach, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Chicago and Clinical Director, Healing Hurt People, Chicago
"A UNIQUE AND HIGHLY CREATIVE APPROACH to helping children and parents recover from trauma; it is inspiring for therapists as well as for the children and families they are helping. The book and program offer a wonderful set of paths with which people of all ages can rediscover the hero in themselves and each other." -Julian D. Ford, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.
Professor of Psychiatry and Law
Graduate School and Public Health Faculty
Director, Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice
Chair, UConn Health CICATS and Panel 3 IRB
Associate Editor, Journal of Trauma and Dissociation
Associate Editor, European Journal of Psychotraumatology
The Real Life Heroes Toolkit for Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Families, 2nd Edition, can be purchased from Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Real-Life-Heroes-Treating-Traumatic/dp/0415518075/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1534103655&sr=1-1&keywords=Real+Life+Heroes+Toolkit+for+Treating other book sellers or directly from Routledge Press https://www.routledge.com/product/isbn/9780415518079?source=igodigital
Routledge provides discounts for sales of over 10 books and for organizational purchases. Discounts may be obtained by contacting John Defalco, Routledge Account Manager, at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 917-351-712.
Wounded Angels; Inspiration from Children in Crisis, 2nd Edition, uses vignettes of children in crisis situations to portray how troubling behaviors can be used as clues for ways children can grow stronger after traumatic stress. This text shows how children's behaviors can be used to guide caregivers and practitioners through hidden conflicts and, open up opportunities to develop emotionally supportive relationships and promote healing for children and families. Practitioners and caregivers can use Wounded Angels to encourage a resiliency perspective for children by building on stories in the book that show how children find their own pathways toward healing.
“Wounded Angels embodies resiliency. The stories within are testimonies that despite adversity and trauma, children can heal and recover. A convincing hopefulness, despite the enormous pain that the stories reveal, emerges which inspires readers to believe that change, healing, and success are possible. This book is for children and adults who seek to be transported to a timeless dimension where human potential is realized through the heroic journeys of those who demonstrate that anything is possible when you believe in yourself and/or others believe in you.”--Jim Henry, PhD, Professor, School of Social Work and Director, Western Michigan University Children's Trauma Assessment Center
“Kagan, a sage collector and interpreter of life stories, leads us beneath traumatized children’s challenging behaviors to find within a unique wellspring for healing. Through attending to the unspoken and compelling metaphors of angels and heroes, he shows us how to listen to children with greater compassion and courage. This masterful book is both heartrending and uplifting, offering valuable resources and insights—not the least of which is a sense of restored optimism for its readers.”--Martha B. Straus, PhD, Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, Antioch University New England, and author, Treating Trauma in Adolescents: Development, Attachment, and the Therapeutic Relationship
“Richard Kagan shares a masterful testament to the depth of his understanding of traumatized children and the messages they have for those who can help them heal. These stories guide therapists and parents alike to take a step back to look for strengths and vulnerabilities in children and ourselves - attributes that together become vehicles for change. Wounded Angelsreminds us, as well, that reciprocal learning is so very much a part of the helping process.”--Sarah B. Greenblatt, MSEd, MS, ACSW, Manager/Founder
S.B. Greenblatt Consulting, LLC; formerly Director, the Casey Center for Effective Child Welfare Practice
“Wounded Angels serves as a call to action to any adult who interacts with children impacted by trauma. Through a series of insightful and inspiring case vignettes, Dr. Kagan illustrates that by slowing down, listening, and asking the right questions, caring adults can understand the messages children convey through angry, disruptive, and fearful behaviors. Wounded Angels provides practical resources to aid therapists and caregivers in joining with children on the path to healing.”--Mindy Kronenberg, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Affiliate Member, National Child Traumatic stress Network
Wounded Angels; Inspiration from Children in Crisis,2nd Edition, can be purchased from Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Wounded-Angels-Inspiration-Children-Crisis/dp/0415518059/ref=mt_paperback?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1534103738 other book sellers or directly from Routledge Press https://www.routledge.com/Wounded-Angels-Inspiration-from-Children-in-Crisis-Second-Edition/Kagan/p/book/9780415518055
Routledge provides discounts for sales of over 10 books and for organizational purchases. Discounts may be obtained by contacting John Defalco, Routledge Account Manager, at: email@example.com or call: 917-351-712.
Rebuilding Attachments with Traumatized Children; Healing from Losses, Violence, Abuse and Neglect (Routledge, 2004) provides the foundation for the Real Life Heroes treatment model. This is a practical guide for helping troubled children move beyond the traumatic experiences that haunt them. Rebuilding Attachments With Traumatized Children presents critical information on how to understand-and surmount-the impact of loss, neglect, separation, and violence on children's development, how to discover and foster strengths in children and their families, and how to rebuild enduring emotionally supportive relationships and hope for children who are at risk of harm to themselves and others.
“Dr. Richard Kagan, a recognized expert in working with traumatized children, has written a truly impressive book. Not only does it contain a wealth of information for understanding the complex issues often faced by these youngsters , but it also offers specific interventions that can be used to help them and their caregivers become more hopeful and resilient. Dr. Kagan’s compassion and empathy are apparent throughout the book.”--Robert Brooks, Ph.D., Faculty, Harvard Medical School; Author of TheSelf-Esteem Teacher; co-author of Raising Resilient Children
“. . .provides hope where there is to often none—enlightening parents, social workers and therapists to increase the odds of favorable developmental outcomes for children through safe, planned, collaborative intervention. . . . A much-needed compilation of the most current theory and practice related to understanding and working with traumatized children and the families raising them”--Sarah B. Greenblatt,. MSEd, MS, ACSW, Director, the Casey Center for Effective Child Welfare Practice, Casey Family Services, New Haven, Connecticut
". . . this sensible and thoughtful book is a. welcome (and needed) addition. . . . He even details an exercise . . . in which colleagues can engage to help them understand better their own role in the impasse. and how to plan a way out. To my knowledge, there is no other text anywhere that takes this on, and it is an essential component of working with such emotionally challenged and challenging children. . . Kagan's careful and thorough book offers us a well-reasoned methodology for how we might proceed. Better yet, he provides a glimmer of hope for us, too, because he truly believes that we can make a substantive difference, even in the lives of the most intractable cases:. traumatized and attachment-disordered children. "--Martha Straus, Ph.D.,. Antioch University, Putney, Vermont (from Contemporary Psychology:. APA Review of Books).
“Clear and compelling. . . . Perhaps no other author communicates better than Dr. Kagan the conviction that severely abused and neglected children can be helped to overcome the impact of earlier trauma. All who work with theses children should be grateful to Dr. Kagan for sharing his melding for relevant knowledge and creative technique.”--Kenneth W. Watson, MSW, Former Assistant Director, Chicago Child Care Society
Rebuilding Attachments with Traumatized Children: Healing from Losses, Violence, Abuse, and Neglectcan be purchased from Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Rebuilding-Attachments-Traumatized-Children-Violence/dp/0789015447/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1534262931&sr=8-1&keywords=rebuilding+attachments+with+traumatized+children other book sellers or directly from Routledge Press https://www.routledge.com/Rebuilding-Attachments-with-Traumatized-Children-Healing-from-Losses/Kagan/p/book/9781138169661
Routledge provides discounts for sales of over 10 books and for organizational purchases. Discounts may be obtained by contacting John Defalco, Routledge Account Manager, at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 917-351-712.
Thank you for visiting the RLH webiste. For more information on Real Life Heroes® and other training programs on traumatic stress, please contact Richard Kagan Ph.D. Training Programs on Traumatic Stress at email@example.com