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Dealing With Childhood Trauma

Last Updated Sep 27, 2021

Dealing With Childhood Trauma

Some traumatic experiences cause physical injuries that heal in time. However, many forms of childhood trauma leave a deep emotional scar that time alone can never heal. Adverse childhood experiences pose a threat to a child's safety, and the effects of traumatic memories resulting from childhood abuse, domestic violence or a natural disaster can be carried into adulthood. This guide lists effective ways to deal with childhood trauma.

What is Childhood Trauma?

Childhood trauma refers to traumatic events in a child's life which they directly experienced or witnessed, and which caused feelings of fear and uncertainty. These may include sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional neglect, bullying and medical procedures, to name a few. Witnessing a parent suffer from emotional abuse or a chronic illness can also take a heavy toll on a child's emotional and mental health.

Traumatized children have different reactions to trauma. In fact, what may be traumatic for one child may not be for another. The uniqueness of each child is what makes them so delicate, hence the heightened fear of them being broken by emotional pain resulting from childhood neglect or other painful experiences.  

How Does Childhood Trauma Affect Children?

When a child experiences a traumatic event, they may behave in an unnatural way in the days and weeks following the scary or life-threatening situation. The child's age and level of the impact of trauma on them, based on their personal interpretation, will determine their response. The most common effects of trauma on children and teenagers that you must take note of include crying, screaming, nightmares, constant worry, difficulty concentrating, sleep disorders, substance abuse, dissociative symptoms and suicidal ideation among others. The gradual development of bad habits is no doubt a clear indication that a child may be suffering from trauma.

What are Effective Treatments for Childhood Trauma?

Unresolved childhood trauma not only hampers happiness but also leads to a range of mental health conditions and behavioural problems such as panic attacks, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder, to name just a few. The good news is, there are several treatment options you can consider to improve your child's quality of life or your own. Here below are psychological interventions that can help treat the impact of childhood trauma on the mind, body, emotions and spirit.

Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)

Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) for childhood trauma

An evidence-based treatment for PTSD or other trauma-related mental illness, narrative exposure therapy is designed specifically for trauma survivors who have experienced complex trauma. Working with a mental health professional specialising in this type of modality will not make your painful experiences in childhood vanish, but it will integrate them into your life and help you understand how your behavioural patterns changed as a result of those experiences. This process can help decrease symptoms of depression and let you regain control of your life and realise that your trauma is not above you.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is an eight-phase therapy that uses repetitive eye movement to process the memory of a physical or emotional trauma and shift negative feelings to positive ones. It is grounded in the concept that the mind can heal psychological wounds just as the body can heal a broken bone or a skin injury. 

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy focuses on treating the child along with their parents and caregivers. It aims to equip everyone in the family with the skills to master fear, uncertainty and other negative emotions that arise from memories of traumatic events.  

Art Therapy

Art therapy for childhood trauma

Art therapy is a healing modality that lets you express your innermost thoughts without words. It involves the use of different art mediums, including drawing, painting and sculpture, to raise self-awareness, eliminate emotional distress and improve self-esteem.

Although the effects of childhood trauma can significantly impair your mental, emotional and physical health, these natural treatment modalities will not only help you deal with it efficiently but also empower you to revive your dignity and self-esteem. Get in touch with a qualified therapist in your local area, including children's health specialists, today through the Natural Therapy Pages' comprehensive listing of Australia's top natural health practitioners.

Originally published on Aug 13, 2021

FAQs About Treatments for Childhood Trauma

Can the brain heal from childhood trauma?

Yes it can. Research shows that the regions of the brain that are affected by trauma, namely the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, have the innate ability to recuperate and restore their normal functions.

Can childhood trauma cause anger issues?

Yes, unresolved childhood trauma can cause anger issues and an awful lot of other mental disorders and behavioural issues. A traumatic experience often leads to emotional dysregulation, which is the inability to control one's emotions.

What does childhood trauma look like in adults?

An adult who's suffering from repressed childhood trauma usually manifests symptoms of anxiety, depression and intermittent explosive disorder (IED). They have difficulty controlling their emotions and often appear to be withdrawn and fearful.

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