Childhood Trauma Therapy
You know that your childhood was not ideal, but you just cannot believe that your situation was bad enough that it could affect you years later. After all, you are an adult now and in control of your life. But, the nightmares have returned and relationships are very difficult
When you look closely, you recognize
- You argue over the smallest things.
- You cannot concentrate at work.
- You no longer seek physical intimacy.
- You cry easily and often feel nervous.
- You have little energy to enjoy your family.
- Sleep worsens and is interrupted with nightmares.
- Co-workers shrink away from you because you have no tolerance for anything less than perfect.
There is Hope
You are not alone. Like many children, you may have received less-than-adequate parenting. Now as an adult, you notice that anger, anxiety, depression or a sense of overwhelm fill your days. You are wondering if child trauma therapy is your next best step.
One of the most effective ways to address childhood trauma therapy incorporates a body-centered method. The approach I use helps clients to actually resolve, and not just cope with the distress caused by childhood abuse and neglect. As the photo of the spring thaw suggests, you can leave the chill of childhood abuse behind and move on.
A body-centered approach works because the current situation is connected to the past through your nervous system. The memory of the abuse and the resulting beliefs you created about who you are and how life works are registered in your body. For example, the chronic muscle tension you feel today can be the same tension that you felt when you ducked when the strap came down. When you are punished like this, you may conclude, “I am a bad person” or, “I will never let anyone tell me what to do again!” The therapy I employ will help you access these painful memories and unhelpful beliefs without causing further trauma to your nervous system.
Child’s Natural Responses to Abuse
There are several common responses I see in adults who have experienced childhood trauma. These are all very natural responses given the degree of support you had as a child.
- You may carry shame about what happened because you could not stop the abuse. Looking back, you may not be able to recognize just how vulnerable you really were. Other times you feel shame because the perpetrator convinced you that you deserved the mean treatment.
- You feel as though you making it all up. The forgetfulness that happened as a child was your body’s way to protect you from feeling the full impact of the physical and /or emotional pain and betrayal. By being able to block out what happened, you were able to stay connected enough with caregivers so you could get your basic needs met.
- You may simply not have the words to say what happened. When you were a terrified child your brain produced chemicals that made thinking in language about what happened very difficult. Instead, you registered the abuse as pictures or via other sensory channels including physical sensation. Years later this may still be the case.
I’m in a terrible situation at work. How do I know if I should seek out childhood trauma therapy?
This is a common concern. This question is best answered by starting out with looking at what is happening right now. Your current situation indeed may be abusive. What do others say about your situation? You can also ask yourself, “Does anything about the current situation seem familiar?” If so, there may be childhood abuse that is compounding the problems at work.
I have always thought of myself as no good and worthless. Would this be address through childhood trauma therapy?
The messages you received as a child can strongly influence how you think of yourself as an adult. While thinking of yourself as “no good” does not necessarily mean you were abused as a child, it is important to explore the messages you took in as a child. Ask yourself if you felt really seen and nurtured by those close to you.
Many perpetrators do not care how the child feels. They may justify their behavior by saying the child deserves the abuse then treat the victim as though they were invisible. The child ends up thinking that she doesn’t matter. Thinking this way, the child makes choices into adulthood that reflect this self-image. Childhood trauma therapy will help you to understand your specific history and help you to resolve its pain
Isn’t it better to just not know if I were abused?
Intentionally avoiding knowing about childhood abuse can be an effective way to cope. Childhood abuse is often a well-kept secret. To break the taboo about not talking of childhood abuse may put your reputation and personal relationships at risk.
Avoiding the abuse, however, can unnecessarily prolong symptoms of depression, anxiety and physical pain. No matter how long ago the abuse happened, childhood trauma therapy can resolve or significantly reduce its effects.
One client, whom I will call Evan, experienced sexual abuse from his mother for many years, beginning at age three. Once Evan and I linked what was happening in his relationship with the past childhood trauma, we worked directly with his body to help him release the unexpressed survival energy that he still held in his nervous system.
His childhood trauma therapy took a year to complete. During this time we did not have to go into every incident, as there was a positive spill-over affect as he proceeded with therapy. As he felt more confident with the process of attending to body sensations, focusing on small bits of his story and using his imagination to create scenes in his mind where he saw his uncle defending him, Evan’s nervous system more quickly and effectively discharged bound energy. With each success, his “I can” attitude became stronger. By the time he left treatment, his sleep had improved; he enjoyed sexual intimacy again and was less easily angered by his son.
Getting the Right Help
To effectively address the symptoms of childhood trauma, it is essential that the therapy include awareness of how the physiology is affected. Otherwise, the symptoms persist regardless of how much you understand how and why the event happened.
Many clients have come to me after years of other therapies. They complain that while they may have learned how to “manage” or override they symptoms, the symptoms have not really gone away.
I also have clients, who have tried medical interventions to address physical pain that resulted from childhood trauma. Their neck or back were still locked because their body continued to remember the abuse.
I am specifically trained to work with trauma using a body based approach called Somatic Experiencing (SE). With 25 years of experience in the field of trauma first as a massage therapist and now as a psychotherapist, I understand how traumatic events affect the body and how to engage the nervous system so it releases the fear and impulse to protect itself.
What to Do Next?
You may need more information about childhood trauma therapy. Two very good sources of information are in my free newsletter Healing AfterTrauma and the blogs I write about this trauma its treatment. You can subscribe by simply completing the boxes on this page. In addition, the resource page can direct you to books and videos you may find helpful.
If you are considering working with me, I offer a 30-minute complementary consult. That way you and I will get to see if we are a good fit for one another. I can be reached at 720-635-7943 or send me an email on my contact page.