How to Start Healing From Childhood Trauma – Adverse Childhood Experiences
Inside every adult is a child who wants to feel the safety and love they never received when they needed it most. Children desire security, validation, acknowledgment, love, and support. They want to be seen, heard, and cared for by those around them. When they’re repeatedly passed over, childhood trauma can occur.
Let’s discuss how you can heal from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences?
Adverse childhood experiences (also known as ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that occur during childhood (ages 0 to 17). Here are the top 10 ACEs.
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Physical neglect
- Emotional neglect
- A family member who is depressed or diagnosed with other mental illness
- A family member who is addicted to alcohol or another substance
- A family member who is in prison
- Witnessing abuse of your mother
- Losing a parent to separation, divorce, or death
While these are common types of childhood trauma, they are not the only types of trauma. Natural disasters and community violence also impact a child’s ability to feel safe and secure in their environment. Children tend to develop coping mechanisms that allow them to handle trauma experienced during the early years of their life. However, these methods are not always the healthiest to use as an adult in a relationship, when married, or as a parent or employee. Thus, it’s critical to learn how to heal from childhood trauma you may have experienced.
How to Heal from Childhood Trauma
Adverse childhood experiences can play a strong role in your development while growing up. However, there comes a time when you can help yourself recover from those experiences, embrace resilience, and move toward growth. Here are a few ways to move beyond childhood trauma.
- Take the ACE questionnaire
Instructions: Below is a list of 10 categories of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). From the list below, please answer to yourself if you have experienced any of these prior to your 18th birthday. Then, please add up the number of categories of ACEs you experienced and put the total number at the bottom.
Did you feel that you didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, or had no one to protect or take care of you?
Did you lose a parent through divorce, abandonment, death, or other reason?
Did you live with anyone who was depressed, mentally ill, or attempted suicide?
Did you live with anyone who had a problem with drinking or using drugs, including prescription drugs?
Did your parents or adults in your home ever hit, punch, beat, or threaten to harm each other?
Did you live with anyone who went to jail or prison?
Did a parent or adult in your home ever swear at you, insult you, or put you down?
Did a parent or adult in your home ever hit, beat, kick, or physically hurt you in any way?
Did you feel that no one in your family loved you or thought you were special?
Did you experience unwanted sexual contact (such as fondling or oral/anal/vaginal intercourse/penetration)?
Understand where you’re starting in this journey by taking the ACE questionnaire. This allows you to acknowledge the link between your past and present.
- Write down your story
Writing is a great technique that you can use to heal from your past. Write down those deep emotions and thoughts about the emotional upheaval that you’ve been experiencing in your life. How has it impacted you, your childhood, your relationship with your parents, or the people you love? Even writing for 20 minutes a day can help you begin to heal.
- Practice yoga
Begin to restore your body along with your mind. Yoga helps to decrease blood flow to the amygdala — which acts as the brain’s alarm center — and increases flow to the frontal lobe and prefrontal cortex — which allows you to react to stressors with a greater sense of equanimity. Yoga also boosts the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid, which helps protect against depression and anxiety and promotes calm.
- Go to therapy
Connect with a skilled therapist and begin unpacking your past. The right individual can be helpful to you as you navigate negative memories and begin to open a new window for healing.
- Attend a motivational speaker presentation
You may feel so lost in your own trauma that you aren’t sure where to begin. Know that you are not alone. Attend a motivational keynote presentation with speaker Derek Clark, a survivor of childhood trauma himself. Hear his story and learn his story of resilience. Sometimes hearing an inspirational story about someone else can help jumpstart your progress.
Have Derek Clark speak at your next childhood trauma, trauma informed care, ACE’s or child welfare conference. Derek is a top conference keynote speaker on childhood trauma and foster care. Visit here for more information.