Has your child experienced trauma or adverse events? The effects of trauma on children can be profound. Childhood trauma can impact emotional, intellectual, and even physical development. The consequences of trauma early in life – especially repeated exposure – appears during childhood, adolescence, and throughout the adult years. Depression, anxiety, risky behaviors, substance abuse, and difficulty building meaningful relationships can all be the results of childhood trauma. Fortunately, trauma-informed therapy for children, adolescents, and young adults can help your child thrive now and thrive as an adult.
Screening for childhood trauma can help explain your child’s behavior
Children and teens who have experienced trauma are often misunderstood. If they are diagnosed as oppositional or depressed, therapy will miss the underlying trauma. Effective screening and assessment can help you really understand what is powering your child’s issues. Effective therapy based on the assessment can change the trajectory of your child’s life.
If you are aware of traumatic events that your child has experienced, or if you suspect that your child has experienced trauma, the first step is to arrange for an assessment with a mental health professional experienced in trauma.
Effective trauma-informed therapy is critical for your child’s future
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have long-term consequences. In general, increased mental health problems, self-harm, and dangerous behaviors in adolescence and adulthood correlate with the number of adverse events experienced before the age of 18. Exposure to traumatic ACEs also translates to physical health problems later in life including a greater likelihood of chronic diseases, disability, diabetes, and heart attack.
ACEs can include:
- Physical, verbal, or sexual abuse
- Parental neglect
- Alcoholism or substance abuse by a parent
- Mental illness within the home
- Experiencing or exposure to violence, including domestic violence
Strengthening your family bonds through therapy can reduce the effect of difficult childhood experiences
Strengthening your family bonds can decrease the damage to physical and mental health substantially. Studies have shown that stronger family bonding can decrease this risk of physical disease by almost have. This is also true for mental health. Strengthening your family bonds, and giving your family tools to cope, have been shown to lead to healthier emotional development and improved functioning as an adult.
Complex PTSD diagnoses in adults can be the result of repeated childhood trauma
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) is the result of multiple or chronic exposures to traumatic events. Aggression, substance abuse, low self-esteem, self-destructive behaviors, profound feelings of shame or self-blame, or an inability to form or maintain relationships as an adult can be the result of complex PTSD stemming from unaddressed adverse experiences in childhood.
Aggression may have been a survival strategy for children growing up in a violent environment. It is strongly associated with complex PTSD in trauma survivors and is an important risk factor for future violent behavior.
Three key factors in recovery
In therapy, we will work to provide key factors that can promote recovery for children who experienced trauma:
- Family bonds.
- Social support.
- Sharing. It can be difficult for trauma survivors to discuss or even disclose past trauma.
If your child can open up about their traumatic experiences in a supportive therapeutic environment, they are more likely to experience greater psychological wellbeing.
The five guiding principles of trauma-informed care
Trauma-informed care recognizes the presence of trauma. It promotes healing and recovery. It avoids practices that may inadvertently re-traumatize.
The five guiding principles of trauma-informed care provide a framework for effective care. Our therapists apply and adapt the guiding principles to the needs and circumstances of your child, teen, or young adult. The five guiding principles are:
- Safety – ensure the physical and emotional safety of your child.
- Choice – enabling choice and control make the therapeutic process more effective.
- Collaboration – the therapist will make decisions with your child and your child will be part of the decision-making in therapy.
- Trustworthiness – the therapist will be clear and consistent in setting boundaries and expectations.
- Empowerment – building on strengths and developing stronger coping skills.
Reach out for help for your child
At Eastside Center for Family, we encourage questions. Not sure about how your child is doing? Reach out for an initial meeting and let’s explore the options. We offer trauma-informed therapy for children, adolescents, and young adults that can help your child thrive now and thrive as an adult. Contact us today.