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A day with Karyn Purvis, PhD

October 14, 2010

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On September 30, 2010, I attended the Together for Adoption
Pre-Conference Workshop, featuring Karyn Purvis, PhD. Dr. Purvis is the author the The Connected Child, an excellent resource for ALL parents, but particularly for parents with children adopted after experiencing trauma, abuse, or neglect. I wasn’t able to attend the conference on Friday and Saturday, but am extremely glad that I made the journey into far northwest Austin to spend a day listening to Dr. Purvis.

Dr. Purvis is a developmental psychologist and the director of the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University. I took pages and pages of notes, and am afraid that I probably missed more information that I was able to take in. When I look back through my yellow note pad, one thing in particular really jumps out at me:

“I have never seen a child who can’t find healing.” ~Dr. Karyn Purvis, September 30, 2010

Sit with that for just a moment. Dr. Purvis is convinced that the tools exist to help each and every child and family. The problem lies within finding and then utilizing those tools.

Dr. Purvis emphasized strongly the need for a greater understanding of a child’s sensory system. Children who were experienced early deprivation or trauma carry the residual impact of these events in their nervous system. Dr. Purvis challenged professionals to really consider how a child’s sensory system may be impacting how they experience the world. She encouraged us to ensure that a child receives sensory input and connection every two hours- a snack, touch, gross motor activity. Nurturing a child’s sensory needs will help facilitate your connection and relationship. Dr. Purvis encourages the practice of infant massage as a way to support and enhance attachment. Infant attachment is easy to learn and easy to use. Dr. Purvis recommended the video “Baby, Baby, Oh Baby!” as an excellent tool to teach the basics of infant massage, and emphasized that the tenants of infant massage are appropriate for children age birth to 101!!

Dr. Purvis left me feeling confident that human beings are driven to connect. Our children want to connect with us! Unfortunately, children who have experienced trauma, abuse, and neglect have barriers that impede that connection- so we have to help them. If you are parenting an adopted child and haven’t read The Connected Child, I encourage you to obtain a copy. It is geared toward parents and easy to read, offering numerous, practical tools that you can being using immediately.

And if you ever have a chance to hear Dr. Purvis speak- take that opportunity!!




Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin and Bastrop Texas specializing in adoption and attachment.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2010 3:00 pm

    I had a very similar response to Dr. Purvis at the Empowered to Connect Conference in Nashville, TN recently. Thanks for putting it all into words that I will be sharing with others.

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