Erikson Institute

Training & Events

What Children Tell Us: Creating Narratives that Help Make Meaning of their Stories

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Symbolic play is the work and language of childhood. It is the activity through which children figure out how the world works, and through which they can show what their experiences have taught them about who they are and who they might be. When young children experience unduly stressful or terrifying events, or daily life is filled with chaos, confusion and uncertainty, they run the risk of being unable to verbally articulate their distress or make sense of it, leaving them with few options for coping and relief. In this workshop the instructors will address the theoretical and neurological rationale for attending to behavior as a means of communication. From there, she will explore how to create narratives with young children and their caregivers that allow children to feel seen, heard, understood and accepted. Through use of illustrative case studies and video vignettes. Participants will deepen their skills and understanding in the use of narratives and containment of the emotional experiences of young children.

Register before January 7th, and receive $99 early-bird pricing! Price increases to $115 after January 7th.

About the Instructor

Julie Ribaudo, LMSW, IMH-E® (IV), is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School Of Social Work, where she joined the faculty in 2006. She has practiced for over 30 years with a focus on parent-infant relationships; assessment and treatment of abused and/or neglected infants, toddlers and young children, and consultant with teachers and child care providers regarding young children with difficult behaviors. In addition to teaching full time, she continues her clinical work, providing Reflective Supervision/Consultation for individuals and groups, is involved in research and service delivery with the Women’s and Infant’s Mental Health Programs through the Department of Psychiatry at U-M. Ms. Ribaudo has a Post-Graduate Certificate and Endorsement as an Infant Mental Health Therapist and Distinguished Mentor. She was the 2013 recipient of the Selma Fraiberg Award for outstanding contributions to Michigan infants and their families. Ribaudo provides national and international training and consultation on infants and toddlers and their families. She has authored and co-authored several publications, including a chapter in “Case Studies in Infant Mental Health” published by Zero to Three, and a 2016 article, “Restoring Safety: An Attachment-Based Approach to Clinical Work with a Traumatized Toddler”, published in the Infant Mental Health Journal.


Participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the role of narratives in “cooling” the stress response system.
  2. “Decode” young children’s behavior as a way to create a narrative.
  3. Construct narratives based on the experiences and behavior of young children.
  4. Consider the barriers to the creation of supportive narratives.
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