I have spent all my professional life as a child psychiatrist working in hospitals and clinics. For many years I have been interested in helping bereaved children and conducted research on how best to help them. As the result of my interest I found myself being asked to see increasing numbers of children who were traumatically bereaved because of one parent killing the other, an event that the children often witnessed. I needed to familiarise myself with the effects of witnessing or being caught up in severe trauma, as well as the effects of bereavement. As I saw more and more of these traumatically bereaved children, I realised that child psychiatric services were not well organised to help these children who often needed emergency help. I decided, with the backing of the Royal Free Hospital, to retire from my post as head of a busy department and set up a clinic for children who had been acutely psychologically traumatised. This work is now supported by a grant through Cruse-Bereavement Care from the Department of Health. I wanted to see how others had organised services for such children so I applied for and was granted a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to study trauma services for children in the USA. I spent a month visiting San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New Haven and New York in September 1993.
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