Have I experienced childhood trauma?
Childhood trauma is very common and can take many forms, such as:
– emotional abuse
– physical abuse
– sexual abuse
– physical and/or emotional neglect (See How Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) can affect adult well-being – you read about it in this blog post)
– witnessing domestic violence
– parental mental illness or substance use
– losing a primary care-giver (mother, father or another parental figure)
– feeling unloved or cared for, unlovable and/or numb
– feeling humiliated
Childhood trauma can affect us many years later and contribute to feelings of anxiety and/or depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, difficulties in relationships, addictions, burn out, dissociation and other emotional or mental health difficulties. you may feel frightened and perhaps you have never told anyone about your experiences and feel ashamed to talk about it. It can be very hard to trust someone with the information if you have been hurt deeply and your trust has been broken.
Therapy can help you with, for example, understanding your experience and processing your feelings around what happened to you. This may take some time, but over time the difficult feelings can become more bearable. Although the memories won’t disappear, but therapy can help to take away the power of the memories so that they won’t hold You back in life.
How can therapy address childhood trauma?
There are different ways of addressing childhood trauma depending on the level and type of trauma. For example, if you grew up with a narcissistic parent or a parent with mental health difficulties or you lost a parent at an early age, it might be beneficial for you to understand the links between your current emotional responses to situations and feelings to how you felt as a child. You might have learnt to cope by shutting down your feelings and our task would be to help you to start accessing those hidden feelings. I have seen many individuals significantly benefit from having 20-25 sessions of Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy, which address the underlying difficulties behind anxiety, low mood and/or relationship difficulties.
On the other hand, if you have, for example, experienced childhood sexual abuse and you are frequently triggered and have flashbacks, our initial task would be to help you to manage those symptoms, develop grounding skills, and work on self-compassion and sense of shame.
Generally, childhood-trauma-related work is medium to longer-term work, as time is needed to initially develop a therapeutic relationship that allows further work, then slowly work on the feelings and experiences. The most important thing in therapy is that you are able to build a trusting relationship with the therapist. I help you to understand how your past and present feelings are linked and affect you today, and how the feelings experienced in the therapy room link with feelings experienced in your life in general.
Therapy can help you, for example, by:
- Understanding how your past and present feelings are linked and affect you today
- Understanding your early attachment (connection) with caregivers and how these may impact on your present relationships
- Starting to move towards more secure way of relating with others and feeling more connected with others
- How the feelings experienced in the therapy room link with feelings experienced in your life in general.
- Being able to process memories or feelings that may have been trapped inside you
- Healing internal wounds and gradually becoming the person who you wish to be
- Gaining awareness of your childhood-trauma-related behaviour patterns that may be contributing your distress
If you experience symptoms relating to a Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrom (PTSD) or Complex PTSD, therapy can in addition to the above help with, for example, by:
- Gaining understanding how trauma and a potential threat in your current environment impact your brain and the body
- Developing grounding techniques if you feel overwhelmed by the feelings and/or memories.
- Learning how to develop the self-soothing systems of the brain that may not be either developed or are under active – Learn here how trauma impacts the brain and the body.
- Having better connections with other people in your life.
Is it worth the effort to do this work?
Ask yourself is this how you would like to carry on in the future. Therapy may seem like a huge risk and it takes commitment, but you deserve a chance to heal your internal wounds and be able to have the life you have always wanted to have. “If nothing changes then nothing changes.” This is your time now.
Would you like to start healing from the pain your childhood, and start living wholeheartedly?
When you are ready to start addressing your childhood trauma or emotional neglect, get in touch to organise your FREE 15min telephone consultation. I would love to hear from you and accompany you on your journey of healing from the past experiences.
Blog posts related to childhood trauma & emotional neglect:
The holiday season can bring out the best and worst in us and in our family members as potentially a lot of time is spent together and there often are expectations for the celebrations. [...]
7 Steps for transforming your relationship – Part 2: Establishing a safe emotional bond and maintaining love
Sue and Steve* recognise that they have become distant in their relationship since having children and they don't have a safe emotional bond. They are bickering over the smallest things, often over matters that [...]
The greatest pain of all – the mother wound, the emotional absence of your mother in your early years. The first part of this 2-part series looked at what the mother wound means and [...]
Healing the mother wound – Part 1: Understanding the mother wound, good enough mothering and the impact of the mother wound as an adult
Perhaps the most painful of all feelings is the awareness that your mother was not there for you emotionally as a child, this creates the mother wound. She might have [...]
A book review on Running on Empty by Dr Jonice Webb for “20 Powerful books to help you befriend your body”
How do you treat your body? Studies have suggested that a very large percentage of women and also men struggle with being friends with their body. Perhaps it is easy to say that the [...]