Helping Babies and Children Aged 0-6 to Heal After Family Violence: A Practical Guide to Infant- and Child-Led Work


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After family violence, very young children and babies benefit from child-led therapy, but how do you achieve this? Dr. Wendy Bunston’s guide is here to help you to meet the emotional needs of children who are experiencing trauma, and to enable them to form healthy attachments, both within their families and beyond.

As well as clearly explaining the consequences of domestic violence on young developing brains, this book demystifies the practicalities of working effectively with children in their earliest years. Examining real-life cases, it notes the distress that arises when a child is separated from his or her family, advises on the importance and complexities of children’s attachments, and shows how to support playfulness as an essential part of children’s healthy personal development. Instruction is provided on how to include all family members in the healing process, including the perpetrators of family violence, in a positive way to improve children’s chances of recovery.

Dr. Wendy Bunston’s unique approach to therapy and care, based on over 25 years’ professional experience, promotes the viewing of cases from a ‘child-led’ perspective. Pragmatic, empathic and accessible, this book will be essential reading for anyone working with those affected by domestic violence.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword
  • 1. Keeping the Baby and the Bathwater
  • 2. Early Brain Development and the Emerging Self
  • 3. Developing Models of Thinking and Practice
  • 4. Making Meaning in the Context of Family Violence
  • 5. Infant Led Practice Before and Across the First Three Years
  • 6. Child Led Practice and the Significance of Playfulness in Childhood and Beyond
  • 7. Infants and Children as the Entry Points for Change
  • 8. Beginning at the Beginning in our Approach to Addressing Family Violence
  • Appendix One
  • Appendix Two
  • Appendix Three
  • Appendix Four
  • References.

Author Bio:

Dr. Wendy Bunston has been working with children in recovery from family violence for over 25 years. After becoming a senior social worker, she worked as a Manager and Senior Clinician at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital Mental Health Program, before completing a PhD in refuge for infants after domestic violence at La Trobe University. She has won several awards including the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards in 2006 and 2010, and is a member of the Australian Association of Infant Mental Health. She is based in Victoria, Australia.


‘An exceptional resource for practitioners working at the front line of family violence services. Strategic, particularly accessible – a powerful message of hope.’ – Dr. Richard Fletcher, Associate Professor at the Family Action Centre of the University of Newcastle

‘A long overdue and highly accessible contribution to the field of family violence that addresses the previously neglected needs of its youngest victims … A hands on repertoire of therapeutic interventions that will prove invaluable to both early career and seasoned clinicians alike.’ – Fiona True LCSW, Co-Director of the Center for Children and Relational Trauma at the Ackerman Institute for The Family, New York