Trauma has a very vast definition. When it is not treated on time, it might live with an individual on a day-to-day basis. Trauma sometimes originates from childhood. This could happen when a child faces physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse by their parents, family members or society in general. This includes regular fights between the parents, parents consistently criticizing them for who they and how they are, rape/sexual assault when they were young by their family members or someone outside of their circle. Not only this, bullying, community violence, disasters, medical trauma or viewing the death of someone during childhood can cause various issues while growing up. This includes, being anxious most of the time, shame, guilt, constantly apologizing, distorted cognition, personality deficits,not being able to trust anyone, insecurities and so on. If childhood trauma is not resolved, the fear and helplessness transitions into adulthood and can set a stage where an individual might bottle up inside or take it on the world in their own ways. Both of these can be destructive to the individual. For example, taking their frustration or anger out on people close to them or at work, not being able to let anyone come close to them, crying when alone, over thinking, and feeling like their past will repeat its story. These are just some examples. Some individuals might face different signs and symptoms. Some of the ways to treat childhood trauma are:
1 – Taking therapy
In order to acknowledge and recognize the trauma, it is important to have a professional who can help through the process. Psychotherapists are those professionals who can help you through that trauma and apply a treatment plan that can be used in the long run. It is a safe and confidential place where an individual can let out their fears and childhood trauma in order for them to cope with it. Psychotherapists can heal through various interventions such as trauma focused CBT, art therapy, narrative exposure therapy, and so on.
2 – Seeking support from your circle
It is important to have a close circle of friends or family who you can trust and turn to in times when you feel the past is haunting you. This is a circle of care which can be useful in the long run.
3 – Taking care of your wellness plan
Wellness plan includes having a self-care plan and maintaining your health in order to make sure your mind is not free to roam around with negative thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, an idle mind can let you revisit chapters that you would like to close, so it’s important to know how to divert your mind and do something positive. This includes, going out for a walk, movement, dance, watching tv, engaging in artistic activities, decluttering your closet or even doing mindfulness meditation.
4 – Learning to allow yourself the time and space
Childhood trauma takes time to heal. Therefore, as an individual you need to give yourself time and space to replace bad habits with good ones, replace what you have been through to what you want to achieve and eventually fulfill your short-term or long-term goals that have been on the back burner. It is important to understand that healing from childhood trauma is not a one-day fix. It will take time, but you have to allow yourself to learn from the process. Allow yourself the time to heal and appreciate the work in progress.
5 – Leave the space which reminds you of it
It is easier said than done. However, if there are things, individuals, places that remind you of your childhood trauma it is ideal to remove them. If that is not possible, what you can do is incorporate the coping strategies that have been taught in the therapy sessions. For example, if an individual has grown up watching his mom being beaten up by his father, it might not be possible for him to move out due to cultural reasons. However, what they can do is distance themselves mentally from the images that bring back those memories and replace them with new ones.
Fatima Noorali is our Short-Term Therapist (Intern) and is completing her Masters’s in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University. One of Fatima’s areas of interest includes childhood trauma. Fatima uses evidence-based modalities and an integrative approach in order to help her clients receive treatment that is personalized to their unique needs.