Childhood Trauma and It's Effect on Adulthood
Childhood trauma can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental and physical health, and can persist into adulthood if left unresolved. Seeking therapy for childhood trauma is a courageous and important step towards healing and growth. In this article, we will explore the difference between unresolved trauma and unresolved issues, common sources of childhood trauma, and how it can manifest in adulthood. We will also discuss when to seek help for overcoming childhood trauma and the various therapies available for healing, including TF-CBT, EMDR, and somatic experiencing. Healing from trauma does not mean forgetting it, but rather developing coping strategies and finding ways to live a self-directed.
When to See a Therapist for Unresolved Childhood Trauma
If you are experiencing PTSD symptoms as a result of unresolved childhood trauma, it may be time to seek the help of a therapist. PTSD symptoms include:
- and emotional dysregulation
Therapy offers a safe space to explore and process through traumatic experiences, develop coping strategies, and improve emotional regulation. Seeking therapy for unresolved childhood trauma is a courageous and important step towards healing and growth.
Is Healing from Childhood Trauma Possible?
Healing from childhood trauma can feel like a daunting process, but the efforts made in therapy create a sense of safety, build resilience, and process traumatic experiences. “Healing the trauma” does not mean “forgetting the trauma”. Instead, “healing from trauma” allows clients to find ways to live a self-directed life instead of trauma-directed life. Therapy can help individuals develop coping strategies, challenge negative thoughts and beliefs, and process traumatic memories. Additionally, self-care practices such as exercise, mindfulness, and self-compassion can support healing and growth.
What Is The Difference Between Unresolved Trauma & Unresolved Issues?
Unresolved trauma refers to trauma that continues to disrupt the daily functions of an individual due to a lack of processing and integration to a post-trauma life. On the other hand, unresolved issues refer to challenges that most people face in their lifetime that may or may not create a significant disruption in functioning. While unresolved issues can certainly impact an individual’s mental health, they may not necessarily cause the same disruption that is caused by unresolved trauma.
Common Sources of Childhood Trauma
Abuse, neglect, bullying and exposure to parental discord are common experiences reported by individuals who score moderately or high on the ACE’s assessment. Other sources of childhood trauma include:
- loss of a parent or guardian
- exposure to violence,
- exposure to parental substance use
- exposure to parental mental health issues
- exposure to natural disasters
How Can Childhood Trauma Manifest in Adulthood?
Childhood trauma can manifest in a variety of ways. Below are three categories of reported symptoms in adults
Physical symptoms Include
- digestive problems,
- chronic pain, and
- autoimmune disorders.
Interpersonal Challenges Include
- difficulties with trust,
- difficulties with intimacy, and
- difficulties with communication.
How Common Is Childhood Trauma?
Research indicates that up to two-thirds of individuals have experienced at least one type of trauma before the age of 18. Anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status, may be impacted by childhood trauma. However, there are communities that are more vulnerable to traumatic experiences due to poverty, access to support and treatment, along with environmental factors such as intergenerational trauma and/or systemic racism.
How do therapists measure trauma?
Therapists may use the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) questionnaire to measure trauma symptoms. Consisting of 10 questions, this tool assesses an individual’s experience of abuse, neglect, household dysfunction, and other traumatic events/adversity. Higher scores indicate higher level of exposure, therefore, indicating higher vulnerability to trauma-related disorders.
The ACEs questionnaire provides valuable information to therapists in understanding their clients’ experiences and identifying potential areas of focus in therapy. Keep in mind that the ACEs tool is just one method of assessing trauma, and to fully understand an individual’s need, further assessments are needed and therapy should foster a collaborative process between the therapist and client.
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Working Through Childhood Trauma
Those who are experiencing challenges stemming from past trauma should work with a therapist who specializes in trauma-focused therapies. This can help to process traumatic memories, develop coping strategies for managing triggers and distressing emotions, and build resilience and self-compassion. Treatment may also incorporate self-care practices such as mindfulness, exercise, and art therapy.
COMMON APPROACHES USED TO TREAT TRAUMA ARE:
- Trauma focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Somatic Experiencing
- Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy
In addition to these approaches, some therapists may incorporate mindfulness-based therapies, art therapy, or other creative expression.. The therapy approach will depend on the individual’s unique needs and experiences, and it may be helpful to work with a therapist who is trained in a variety of techniques to tailor treatment to each client’s specific needs.
When to Seek Help
It is important to seek help for overcoming childhood trauma as soon as you begin to notice its impact on your daily life. This may present as anxiety, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, or difficulty regulating emotions. Other signs may include avoidance of certain situations or memories, feeling disconnected from others, or engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors.
Childhood trauma can have significant and lasting effects on an individual’s mental and physical health, and seeking therapy can be an important step towards healing and growth. While healing from trauma can feel like a daunting process, it is important to remember that it is possible to find ways to live a self-directed life. Therapies such as CBT, EMDR, and somatic experiencing can help individuals develop coping strategies, challenge negative thoughts and beliefs, and process traumatic memories.
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