Even if you’re an adult, you can still feel childhood trauma’s emotional and physical effects. An essential part of the healing process is recognizing that childhood trauma is causing the long-term effects you’re experiencing. After acknowledging the cause, you’ll be able to take steps to mitigate these effects.
Understanding Childhood Trauma?
What causes childhood trauma? Mental health experts point to Adverse Childhood Experiences, referred to as “ACEs.” To be considered an ACE, the traumatic event happens before age 18.
More than 60% of adults have experienced at least one ACE, while 16% have dealt with four or more ACEs. The more ACEs you’ve experienced, the more their effects can add up over time.
Examples of ACEs include:
- Surviving physical, mental, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Experiencing neglect
- Witnessing extreme violence
- Surviving a natural disaster
- Encountering chronic bullying
- Growing up in a family with mental health or substance use issues
- Experiencing a family member attempt or die by suicide
- Sensing perceived danger
Some adults who have faced an ACE don’t experience any long-term consequences. But some factors increase the chance of a child experiencing problems later in life.
Risks of experiencing lingering impacts include:
- Age. Children who experience an ACE before age 8 are the most vulnerable to long-term impacts.
- Intensity. The more extreme the trauma, the higher the risk for lasting effects.
- Extent. Did the traumatic experience happen one time or repeatedly? Chronic exposure to adverse events puts children at risk of long-term difficulties.
Long-Term Effects of Childhood Trauma
Childhood trauma can impact you in many ways. From health consequences to psychological and behavioral issues, past traumas can stay with you, lowering your quality of life. Below are some of the symptoms of childhood trauma in adults.
- Cardiovascular problems
- High levels of stress hormones
- Anger and aggression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Poor self-esteem
- Memory loss
- Feeling detached from others
- Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
- Involvement in risky sexual behaviors
- Committing crimes or violence
- Engaging in self-harm
- Less likely to make healthy choices
- Poor performance at work
- Relationship difficulties
- Inability to perform daily life activities
- Struggling in school
- Issues processing emotions
- Negative sense of self
If you have any long-term consequences of childhood trauma, the first step is to realize you deserve a better life. You’re worthy of healing, but it will require patience and effort. Trauma doesn’t heal on its own.
Healing Childhood Trauma
Like any other type of trauma, ACEs shape how you view the world. Trauma also impacts how you interact with others, including a therapist. Healing from childhood trauma requires treatment, but a trauma-informed approach is essential.
Trauma-informed therapists shift the focus from your current set of circumstances to, “What happened to you?”. Whatever the trauma’s effect on you, your therapist will devise a plan to help you recover. Throughout the process, your therapist will actively avoid re-traumatizing you.
“Treating childhood trauma requires a collaboration between the client and therapist,” said Carmen Dominguez, Executive Clinical Director at Integrative Life Center. “Our aim is direct clients on the path of establishing safety, dignity, and connection.”
Your therapist will work to build a trusting relationship with you. Establishing a safe partnership frees you to explore your traumatic experience and how it resulted in problematic behaviors. Then, you can understand the reasoning for your behaviors.
“We want to inspire clients to get curious about what is behind some of their self-defeating patterns,” Carmen said. “We care deeply about addressing our clients’ whole being.”
Healing Requires a Holistic Approach
“Helping people understand how the body, mind, and spirit are impacted due to unprocessed trauma is also key to their healing,” according to Carmen.
Since childhood trauma impacts every aspect of your personhood, so should effective therapy.
No two people are the same. Trauma-informed therapists honor your agency, working with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses every aspect of you.
Through therapy, you can overcome childhood trauma. Here are some evidence-based treatments that can help you improve your overall quality of life:
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Brainspotting Therapy
At Integrative Life Center, we know that holistic healing requires more therapies in addition to evidence-based treatments. Additional adventure and experiential therapies are innovative, holistic ways to heal. These therapies include:
- Equine therapy
- Art therapy
- Music therapy
- Physical activity, including a ropes course, kayaking, and yoga
- Martial arts
- Meditation, like the Wim Hof Breathwork method
We use experimental therapies with evidence-based treatments to help you live the most fulfilling life possible. Our programs aid in self-discovery through strengthening your inner wisdom and restoring the balance between your mind, body, and spirit.
Is Overcome Childhood Trauma Possible?
It’s certainly possible to overcome childhood trauma with the help of trauma-informed therapists. At Integrative Life Center, we are honored to see it happen with our clients. If you seek therapy, you can live a higher quality of life.
The long-term effects of adverse childhood events are challenging. You shouldn’t have to do it alone. A therapist helps you recognize, address, and heal your past experiences.
Reclaim your life today and contact Integrative Life Center to learn more about your treatment options.