How Jayme Closs may start to heal

Even though missing Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs is now safe, e xperts say she will likely need lots of help recovering from the trauma she experienced.

Since Closs is just 13, experts say her brain will likely process this trauma differently than an adult.

Her age will also affect how experts help her recover.

Gundersen Health System clinical psychologist Ted Green said, “There’s an upside to it and then a challenge to it, given her age.”

Green said her age will be a factor in how her brain processes what happened to her.

“Her brain isn’t fully developed yet so there could be some developmental disruption. She might have some trouble with emotional regulation at times-anxiety, things like that. On the other hand it can be a good thing that she’s still 13. She has a lot of years ahead of her to process this stuff and when she’s an adult it could seem like a distant memory, because she was 13, rather than happening as an adult,” Green said.

Green said there are three main steps to recovering from trauma.

“First is just stabilization–just trying to help Jayme feel safe, trying to help both her brain and her nervous system understand that the threat is no longer there,” Green said.

To achieve this, Green says some kids might go through psychotherapy or need medication.

“The second step is processing the trauma so once she’s stable, feels safe feels like the threat is behind her kind of processing the emotions, the fears, the meaning of what happened,” Green said.

The final step is reintegrating Jayme back into school and her regular activities.

“And the third step is reintegration–so trying to give her support to go back to school, live the life she used to live. Kind of reintegrating into the life she used to have,” Green said.

But with both of her parents gone it’s going to be important to have a strong support system.

Lacie Ketelhut, a trauma-informed care community coordinator in La Crosse, said, “What is the biggest way to help support recovery and resilience, you’re going to find that it’s social connections. Healthy relational health with friends and family and those close to her and around that person are going to be your strongest buffer.”

Experts say it’s hard to predict just how fast Jayme will recover.

They say it’s really determined on the individual, and how much trauma they’re dealing with impacts how fast they are likely to recover.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are currently more than 50 children missing in Wisconsin.

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