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.
How can psychotherapy help with childhood trauma?
There are different ways of addressing childhood trauma depending on the level and type of trauma. There are two broad categories of traumas:
Small t traumas are an accumulation of negative events or experiences in everyday life such as Mother/father wound – attachment trauma or loss of a parent in childhood. In psychotherapy, we can work on initially understanding how these childhood experiences have impacted you in the past and present. I help you to identify how you experienced these as a child and what kind of feelings arise as you now look at the experiences through an adult lens. We identify any struggles you may have with accessing your feelings. We also work on helping you to understand bodily sensations that are accompanied by emotions arising as you talk about your experiences. This way processing your emotional experience allows the feelings trapped in your body to be released and you build a better connection with your whole being and subsequently increased sense of well-being. I have seen many clients benefit from having 20-25 sessions of integrative psychotherapy.
Big T trauma refers to e.g. terrorism, being exposed to combat and war, sexual abuse, significant accidents or a natural disaster. Big T trauma is often accompanied by symptoms of a PTSD such as flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, fragmented memory and other experiences of as if you are reliving the traumatic experience in the present time. Not everyone who has experienced this type of events develops PTSD.
For the treatment of Big T trauma, I combine Compassion focused therapy for trauma and Somatic experiencing interventions. The therapy starts with psychoeducation on how your brain & body react to trauma at the time of the traumatic event and if being triggered later on. We work on developing coping strategies for your symptoms and bringing your nervous system down (in case of hyperarousal) and stimulating your nervous system in case of hypoarousal. We work on creating a sense of safety. We work at your pace and piece by piece process your emotional experiences. At times we may include inner child work if it is appropriate. Usually, Big T trauma work is long-term (12+ months).
The aim of emotional processing is to reduce the power of the emotions linked with your painful experiences and being able to integrate the experiences as part of your life story. Trauma creates a disconnection and the therapeutic interventions are there to join the fragmented experiences together bringing a sense of connection and wholeness to your experience.
General benefits of psychotherapy addressing childhood trauma:
- reduced anxiety / low mood
- reduced confusion and a greater sense of clarity on what has happened
- a sense of freedom from the emotional pain caused the traumatic events
- improved and deeper emotional connection in relationships
- having healthy boundaries and a sense of being more in charge of one’s life
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 past experiences.
Blog posts related to childhood trauma & emotional neglect:
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