How to Heal from Childhood Trauma | Therapies to Help

September 5, 2023

two women hugging representing how to heal from childhood trauma

Learning how to heal from childhood trauma takes time and often involves an array of blended therapies.

Childhood trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder and encompasses distressing experiences that can significantly impact a young person’s functioning and coping abilities. Regrettably, such experiences are widespread, with 46% of children encountering trauma during their early years.

Although children demonstrate resilience, they are not impervious to external events. Adults may downplay the impact of early trauma, assuming that young age will lead to forgetting. Childhood trauma can cast a long shadow, though, triggering lasting effects that ripple throughout later life. Read on to learn more about the following trauma-related issues:

  • How to heal emotional trauma from childhood.
  • How long does it take to heal from childhood trauma?
  • How to help someone heal from childhood trauma if they are resistant to treatment.
  • How to help your spouse heal from childhood trauma.
  • How to heal from childhood trauma yourself.
  • How to treat childhood trauma in adults effectively and how to engage with therapy for childhood trauma in Southern California.

What is Childhood Trauma?

Childhood trauma refers to events encountered by children that induce fear and often involve violence, danger, or life-threatening situations. These events are also known as ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) and include a range of diverse encounters that can result in traumatic outcomes. Healing childhood trauma may involve addressing the following issues:

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  • Physical abuse: The experience of physical harm or violence inflicted upon a child, often by a caregiver or adult.
  • Sexual abuse: Involves inappropriate sexual contact, exposure, or exploitation of a child, leading to significant emotional and psychological distress.
  • Emotional neglect: A lack of emotional support, love, and nurturing from caregivers, which can undermine a child’s sense of self-worth and emotional well-being.
  • Witnessing domestic violence: Exposure to conflicts, aggression, or violence between adults, such as parents or caregivers, within the child’s home environment.
  • Neglect: Failure to provide basic necessities like food, shelter, and proper care, which can lead to physical and emotional harm.
  • Loss of a loved one: The death of a family member, close friend, or beloved pet can be a traumatic experience, especially for children who may struggle with grief and confusion.
  • Medical trauma: Major medical procedures, hospitalization, or serious illnesses can cause distress, anxiety, and trauma, especially when combined with pain and fear.
  • Community violence: Living in or being exposed to a community with high levels of violence, crime, or instability can lead to chronic stress and trauma.
  • Bullying or harassment: Repeated mistreatment, whether physical, verbal, or virtual, can profoundly impact a child’s self-esteem and mental well-being.
  • Natural disasters: Experiencing or witnessing natural catastrophes like earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes can lead to trauma due to fear and disruption.
  • Refugee or war zone trauma: Children in conflict zones or those who are forcibly displaced due to war or persecution often endure traumatic experiences that affect their mental health.
  • Accidents or injuries: Suffering from accidents, injuries, or near-death experiences can result in trauma, particularly if there are lasting physical or emotional repercussions.
  • Parental substance abuse or mental illness: Growing up with a parent who struggles with substance abuse or mental health issues can lead to neglect, instability, and emotional distress.
  • Traumatic loss of trust: Instances where a caregiver, authority figure, or someone trusted betrays a child’s trust through abuse, deception, or abandonment.
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Effective Treatments for Childhood Trauma

Healing from childhood trauma requires a personalized treatment plan that may involve the following interventions:

  • TF-CBT (trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Play therapy
  • EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • PCIT (parent-child interaction therapy)
  • Group therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Mindfulness and relaxation techniques
  • Medications
  • Supportive family and caregiver relationships
  • Educational support
  • Healthy lifestyle choices

TF-CBT (trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy)

Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy is a structured approach that helps children process traumatic experiences, manage emotions, and develop coping skills.

Play therapy

Utilizes play and creative expression to help children communicate and process their feelings in a safe and supportive environment.

EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing)

EMDR is a technique that helps people process and reframe traumatic memories through guided eye movements, reducing the emotional distress associated with the memories.

PCIT (parent-child interaction therapy)

PCIT focuses on improving parent-child relationships and communication, which can provide a secure base for children to process and discover how to heal from a childhood trauma.

Group therapy

Allows children to connect with peers who have similar experiences, fostering a sense of belonging and reducing feelings of isolation.

Art therapy

Utilizes artistic expression as a way for individuals to communicate and process their emotions, providing a non-verbal outlet for trauma healing.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Practices such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help people manage stress and anxiety associated with trauma.

Medications

In some cases, psychiatrists may prescribe medication to manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges resulting from trauma.

Supportive family and caregiver relationships

Providing a stable and nurturing environment can significantly contribute to a child’s recovery from trauma.

Educational support

Teachers and school counselors can play a vital role in helping children cope with trauma by providing understanding, accommodations, and resources.

Healthy lifestyle choices

Encouraging regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate sleep can contribute to a child’s overall resilience and well-being.

Helping a Loved One Heal from Childhood Trauma

Supporting someone in their journey to heal from childhood trauma requires patience, empathy, and a safe space. Here are some ways you can be a source of healing and encouragement:

  • Listen actively: Provide a non-judgmental place where they can share their feelings and experiences. Be an attentive listener without trying to offer solutions or minimize their emotions.
  • Validate their feelings: Ensure that your child knows that you consider that their feelings are understandable and valid. Avoid trivializing or dismissing their experiences.
  • Educate yourself: Learn about trauma and its effects to better understand what your loved one is going through. This knowledge can guide your interactions and responses.
  • Respect their pace: Healing is a personal journey, and it may take time. Respect their pace and readiness to discuss or address their trauma.
  • Encourage professional help: Gently suggest seeking therapy or counseling from professionals experienced in trauma. Offer to help them find suitable resources.
  • Offer consistency: Be a consistent presence in their life, demonstrating that you’re there for them even when things are tough.
  • Respect boundaries: Pay attention to their comfort levels and boundaries. Give them space when needed, while also showing your availability when they are ready to connect.
  • Practice patience: Healing is not linear, and setbacks can happen. Offer encouragement and patience during moments of struggle.
  • Engage in calming activities: Participate in soothing activities together, like nature walks, art, or meditation. These activities can help reduce stress and promote healing.
  • Provide reassurance: Remind them that they are not defined by their trauma and that healing is possible. Encourage them to focus on their strengths and resilience.
  • Help foster a supportive environment: Create a supportive network that includes friends, family, and mental health professionals who can contribute to their healing process.
  • Celebrate progress: Acknowledge and celebrate the small steps they take towards healing, whether it’s attending therapy sessions or practicing self-care.
  • Model healthy coping: Show them healthy coping mechanisms through your own actions, such as managing stress, seeking support, and practicing self-compassion.
  • Encourage self-care: Emphasize the importance of self-care and guide them toward activities that promote relaxation, self-love, and well-being.

Remember that while you can offer support, professional help is essential for healing from childhood trauma. Encourage your loved one to seek guidance from trained therapists or counselors who specialize in trauma recovery.

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Begin Healing from Childhood Trauma at Connections Mental Health Center

At Connections Mental Health in Southern California, we can show you how to heal from a childhood trauma. We specialize in treating all types of mental health conditions, including trauma-related disorders.

Those impacted by trauma typically crave stability. Our PTSD treatment program in Orange County can help you move forward. Place your trust in our committed team as they customize a treatment plan that targets the root cause of your childhood trauma. Access evidence-based therapies and holistic treatments for a whole-body approach to trauma healing.

Reach out to admissions today and begin your journey to healing from childhood trauma with the help of caring experts at Connections Mental Health.

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