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Hannah Anderson’s Recovery Process — Adolescent Psychologists Speak

Thu, August 15, 2013 8:42am EDT by Kristine Kowalski 2 Comments
Hannah Anderson Kidnapping Update
Courtesy Photo

Hannah Anderson is home safely after her August 4 kidnapping, but she is only beginning the road to recovery after the horrible event. reached out to expert psychologists to try to understand the healing process that comes with such a horrible experience.

16-year-old Hannah Anderson has gone through so much tragedy in a short amount of time: she survived a terrible tragedy where she was kidnapped by a family friend who authorities believe murdered her mother and brother. She’s now safely home with her father, but she faces a long road of coming to terms with recent incidents. spoke EXCLUSIVELY with two child and adolescent psychologists to get their expert opinions on what Hannah’s healing process will entail.

Hannah Anderson Update — Kidnapping Victim Doing Better, Experts Speak About Recovery

Hannah’s trauma didn’t end when she returned home to her father after a harrowing kidnapping ordeal. Now she will need to gradually address her emotions and learn to deal with her grief — over the loss of her family members and the scary encounter with her captor.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Sheila Forman tells EXCLUSIVELY that “Hannah has experienced a traumatic event. It will benefit her to be evaluated by both medical and psychological professionals. I suspect she will be treated with a combination of psychotropic medications and psychotherapy. With the help of psychotherapy she can work  through the stages of grief culminating in acceptance.”

Child and Adolescent Psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein tells EXCLUSIVELY:

Most people, when going through a traumatic experience such as this, will need to find a good therapist who specializes in trauma work.  It is not going to be an easy or quick fix.  It will take time to work through all of the intense emotions, fear and anxieties that come along with all of this.  And it will take time for Hannah to come to terms with what happened, understand what she can, and move on.

Time will help her to heal.  How much time, it’s impossible to say. People have different levels of resilience and different abilities to forgive and move forward.  Finding peace is definitely something that Hannah can achieve.  Whether or not she will be able to forgive is not something we can know.  It is possible, though, to find peace and acceptance, and let go of anger, without offering forgiveness.

Hannah Anderson: Re-Establishing Ability To Trust

Hannah’s recovery process is likely to be more difficult because her captor was a trusted friend of the family. “Trust could be re-established through the proper psychological treatment and by being surrounded by trustworthy people who are consistent with their words and actions towards her,” says Dr. Forman. She explains:

With proper treatment it is very likely that she will find her way back to a place of peace of mind. Whether she chooses to forgive her captor her not is a highly personal one and one that some people who experienced trauma do make.

Dr. Hartstein explains that Hannah’s ability to trust those close to her is going forward is going to be forever altered:

Her levels of trust are going to be severely damaged.  Not only did this man kidnap her, he allegedly killed her mother and her brother and burned down her family home.  He was a significant part of her life, and he took advantage of that.  Teenage girls are abducted at higher rates than any other age child.  I think that this is partly due to the fact that they are easily influenced by older men who are interested in them, and get excited by the attention.

DiMaggio was someone who was close to her, and who expressed an interest in her.  Developmentally, girls may have a hard time differentiating between what’s appropriate vs inappropriate attention.  She is going to have to relearn how to have faith in people, how to trust her own instincts and how to ask for help when needed.  She is going to have to forgive herself, as much as anything, as she might blame herself for things that happened.  Luckily, she does have family that will support her through whatever she needs.  And, hopefully, she’ll find a supportive therapy situation that will help her to work through the issues that will, undoubtedly, arise.

Hannah is in for a difficult road ahead of her, but with a good support system and proper treatment, we hope that she will be able to heal.

WATCH: Hannah Anderson’s Father Thanks The Media & Police
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— Kristine Hope Kowalski

More Hannah Anderson News:

  1. Kidnapping Victim Hannah Anderson Speaking Out On Social Media
  2. Hannah Anderson Rescued: Father Elated To Reunite With His Daughter
  3. California Murder Suspect Shot Dead By FBI; Missing Teen Found