I thought this week I would write a short summary about the contributions of Karyn Purvis to the field of children’s therapy. She died in 2016 but her teaching and contributions live on. She taught at Texas Christian University and was an internationally-renowned child development expert, popular speaker, author and passionate advocate for vulnerable children.
Children from hard places
She coined the term “children from hard places” to describe the children she loved and served, those who have suffered trauma, abuse, neglect or other adverse conditions early in life. Her research-based philosophy for healing harmed children centered on earning trust and building deep emotional connections to center and empower them. In one interview she said: “If I could tell you my dream for every child in the world it would be to imagine a world where the cry of every child is met by a loving compassionate adult. Giving voice to children is the heart and soul of what I do.”
the Connected Child
Her book The Connected Child, taught a holistic, comprehensive, research-based approach to healing vulnerable children called Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI). In 2008, Governor Rick Perry appointed her to chair a statewide committee tasked with raising standards for children in foster care. The National Council on Adoption honored Dr. Purvis with the title of Distinguished Fellow in Adoption and Child Development. She has received the James Hammerstein Award, the T. Berry Brazelton award for Infant Mental Health Advocacy, a Health Care Hero award from the Dallas Business Journal and numerous other awards and honors for her work on behalf of children.
Quotes by Dr. Purvis
- “You cannot lead a child to a place of healing if you do not know the way yourself.”
- When dealing with traumatized children “It is not you against this child, it is you and this child against this child’s history. It is not a personal attack on you.”
- “The goal is to see the precious child that exists beneath the survival strategies and to let them know that we see them.”
- “Our children were harmed in relationship and they will experience healing through nurturing relationships.”
- And one of my favorites for the work we do at the Center – “it takes over 400 repetitions to create a synapse in the brain (true learning) without playful engagement OR about 12 repetitions to create a synapse when you use play to teach. So, if you really want to effectively and efficiently teach your children (or anyone for that matter), use PLAY!”
- I think I may just write another blog about that last quote and our “work” using play therapy at Family Christian Counseling Center.
Dr. Purvis was truly a gifted women, after she passed Texas Christian University changed the name of its Institute of Child Development to the “Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development” to honor her life and legacy.
If you would like to read more about the Center’s work with “children from hard places” click on the link.