It is finally possible to heal childhood trauma in adults.
The road may not be easy, but this article is shares the most effective methods I’ve found to heal childhood trauma.
My viewpoints are based on my own experience (as a patient / client) as well as my experience as a trained healthcare professional.
You may have reached a point in your life when you are ready to heal childhood trauma.
Firstly, I recommend taking control of your own healing with good self-care (such as meditation, down-time, good nutrition, sleep and exercise) and education, including reading about healing childhood trauma. There are many exceptional books available.
However, it is very unlikely that you can heal childhood trauma by yourself.
You will likely need extra support if you are serious about getting to the core of specific issues or symptoms. Working 1-2-1 with a trained professional, who really understands how to overcome issues from childhood, can be incredibly helpful.
Find a therapist / healer to heal childhood trauma
When you find a good therapist or healer, and commit to regular sessions, you gain deeper insights and make faster progress than if you were to approach the healing of your wounded or neglected inner child half-heartedly.
With the right therapist or healer, you will also form what is known as a ‘reparative relationship‘. This kind of relationship is founded on trust, stability and loyalty. It puts the client’s welfare (your welfare) at the centre of everything and this focus engenders a deep sense of safety that helps repair the damage of the past.
There are many adults living with childhood trauma. This is partly because the tools we have today to heal childhood trauma are relatively new.
In fact, you may know adult family members from an older generation who have lived with the consequences of childhood trauma. This may have been due to lack of awareness, resources and education about the symptoms of childhood trauma in adulthood during their lifetime.
Even today, with so many tools available to heal childhood trauma, many people still avoid looking at childhood wounds and releasing childhood trauma because they are afraid of what they may find in the process. They don’t want to look inside or at their past.
That is understandable.
The process of healing often involves connecting with, expressing and processing emotions that have been buried, deadened or ‘split off’ for years.
Sometimes these emotional wounds make you may feel vulnerable, frightened or overwhelmed. Therefore, you have to be sure you are in safe hands, i.e. working with an experienced, ethical therapist or healer.
It takes courage to ask for help.
I want to reassure your that a quest for truth and healing, such as a commitment to long term therapy, counselling or energy healing, can yield life-changing results.
Furthermore, having therapy is not a sign of weakness – it’s pragmatic.
Your investment in therapy, counselling or energy healing can help you rise to new heights of success, joy and fulfilment.
Relationships help heal childhood trauma
Sadly, the subject of having long term therapy or healing can still feel like a shameful secret. Previous generations rarely talked about openly, at least not in the UK.
Yet, emotional and psychological support has taken the form of a listening ear since ancient times. Indeed, the roots of modern ‘talk therapy’ would have been the village specialist: the wise woman, the herbalist, the nurse, doula, or one of the tribal elders.
In your own childhood, it could have been any consistent, positive relationship: a loving relative, a kind teacher or an encouraging childhood friend.
The African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child” means that it took an entire community of different people engaging and interacting with children in order for a child to grow in a safe environment.
Across the world in times past, villagers would look out for their neighbour’s and extended family’s children. That sense of an extended family could have compensated for difficulties in the birth family. Possibly these extended constellations would have even shielded a child from neglect, abuse or other adverse situations, or offered other reparative relationships.
Today support, advice, wisdom and protection within a small local network is no longer available. Furthermore, birth families are spread across countries and continents.
Life in big cities can feel impersonal and transient, and the quality of our interactions is often superficial.
Social isolation is increasing and loneliness is growing in our societies.
These factors increase the risk of death by 26%, as well as impacting overall health and personal levels of self-care.
As an adult survivor of a difficult childhood, once you achieve a basic standard of living (survival, shelter, self-esteem) then you may feel ready to address issues you have hidden from your whole life.
…But you may feel confused about how to heal from childhood trauma?
Which therapy is most appropriate and effective?
The medical model cannot heal childhood trauma
In the last 30 years, there has been an explosion in alternative ‘holistic’ therapies to counterbalance the medical model. The latter, though indispensable for operations and emergencies, has become a multi-billion dollar industrial complex that has left swathes of ordinary people unhealthy, disillusioned or distrustful.
The medical establishment has been slow to catch up with scientific evidence that suggests our mind, body (and what we feed it), lifestyle, emotions and spirituality are all connected.
In light of these trends, being open to alternative methods of accessing support to overcome childhood trauma – as opposed to relying on medication to alleviate pain – is vital.
You must understand that chronic childhood stress can play a role – along with genetics and other factors such as lifestyle and environment – in a number of negative symptoms and outcomes.
These include: developing serious illnesses, shortened lifespan and lifelong relationship challenges.
Yet, a difficult start in life doesn’t have to define you or your life story.
Fortunately, counselling, psychotherapy, coaching and mentoring are no longer fringe. Instead they slowly, in social circles, they are starting to be accepted as a part of normal life, like going to the doctor.
It has even become desirable in many circles to have a coach, advisor or mentor (Forbes, Feb 2012).Good quality counselling and psychotherapy are recognised as effective treatments for trauma by the medical establishment.
Research indicates that the right kind of support, motivation and inspiration underpins all personal growth.
I am a trained and certified psychotherapeutic counsellor, healer and energy medicine practitioner. I ran a private practice in Central London for 7 years where I worked with 100s of clients. I have a particular interest in helping highly sensitive adult children from dysfunctional families.
Below, I’m going to talk about the difference between three therapies / healing modalities you may like to consider to heal subconscious trauma from childhood.
• Energy Healing
… And what to look for when talking with a potential childhood trauma therapist or healer.
What to expect when you try to heal childhood trauma
Inevitably, the process of traditional counselling or psychotherapy will unearth buried – painful – feelings. After all, you are bringing painful past experiences that affected you deeply into full conscious awareness.
When a deep wound is left unhealed, it ultimately limits healthy emotional and psychological functioning. Eventually, the blocked energy may manifest as a physical disorder or chronic disease.
Other symptoms include debilitating addictions, breakdowns, dysfunctional relating and recurring dark nights of the soul.
A therapeutic counsellor, psychotherapist or energy healer helps you take the sticking plasters off any wounds so the wounds can air and heal properly.
They are trained to create a safe container for healing: a microcosm which puts your feelings and needs at the centre of the universe.
Ultimately, this process of working through will lead you to a better understanding of yourself, better coping skills, higher self-esteem, feelings of relief, greater peace and many other benefits.
Which therapy is best to heal childhood trauma?
Counselling to heal childhood trauma
Therapeutic counselling can be short term (a few weeks) up to a few years. Counselling is useful for helping with difficult immediate circumstances: bereavement, job loss, end of a relationship or life transition, or common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
However, longer term counselling can be effective providing the counsellor is robust enough. They would need to understand how each of your subconscious minds affects the counselling relationship, i.e. be able to recognise when you / they / the process is being affected by projections, projective identification, re-enactment, transference, resistance and/or blind spots.
Furthermore, they should be able to hold a space for you to process traumatic emotions without crumbling or rescuing.
If you decide to have counselling to release trauma from childhood, I recommend psychodynamic counselling.
The psychodynamic counsellor is proactive and helps you make links between present experiences and your past. (In contrast to the person-centred approach which is more passive and observational).
Psychodynamic counsellors work like detectives to uncover hidden patterns, causes and effects, and underlying reasons for you feeling a certain way.
If you are interested in a more spiritual approach you may like transpersonal counselling as it incorporates a more holistic world view, including body, mind and spirit.
Finally, an integrative counsellor actually combines several different approaches and therefore you may be able to find a therapeutic counsellor who is both psychodynamic and transpersonal.
Psychotherapy to heal childhood trauma
Long term psychotherapy builds inner scaffolding and makes you more resilient. It reframes your experience so you can re-write your negative past, and re-parent your inner child.
Long-term structured care of this kind (i.e. working 1-2-1 with a psychotherapist over many months or year) is appropriate for serious mental health issues as well as ingrained patterns that just won’t shift.
Similar to psychoanalysis, psychotherapy works best when you commit to at least two years of regular – usually weekly – sessions.
The psychotherapy process goes deep.
Having had both counselling and psychotherapy, I believe psychotherapy is more effective than counselling to heal ingrained emotional and psychological issues, childhood trauma and treating the effects of adverse childhood conditions.
If you find a psychotherapist with whom you feel a bond, and you are prepared to make the time commitment, I highly recommend this approach.
You will be working on the very foundations of your being and it will affect how you view yourself, your past, your family and your life in unexpected ways.
Psychotherapy does not have to cost a lot of money. At least in the UK, we are fortunate enough to have lots of good quality, low cost counselling and psychotherapy options.
For example, the world-renowned Tavistock Centre in London offers low cost options. If you are based outside London some local psychotherapists working privately or in group practice offer reduced fees so it is worth searching in your local area to see what is available (see tips below).
Can energy healing heal childhood trauma?
In 2015 I sat down and worked out that I’d had 203 hours of counselling and psychotherapy over 5 years – plus travel time of up to 1 hour each way!
Not only was this a huge time commitment but the cost ran into thousands. I believed there must be a faster and more time efficient way to heal.
If you are spiritually open-minded and looking for help with psychological and emotional issues, you would do well to consider this final approach.
If you are lucky enough to come across a healer with both energy healing AND counselling or psychotherapy qualifications combined, be curious.
This combined training means that your healer will be able to
a) Identify and clear issues quickly using energy healing.
b) Create a safe healing container due to their understanding of ethics.
c) Support you in a practical, grounded and theoretical way.
For me, this is the ideal combination.
A practitioner who incorporates the latest developments in energy medicine – saving you time and money. Yet, also someone who’s training leaves no blind spots.
Unfortunately, I’ve known some energy healers who have not grasped the concepts of confidentiality, boundaries or ‘do no harm’.
These healers are well-meaning but inadvertently dangerous because of a lack of education and experience.
If for any reason you feel unsafe, uneasy, uncomfortable, under attack, controlled or taken advantage of, you must not proceed with the therapeutic relationship.
Then, start your search for a good therapist / healer again.
You will have to research and try out various practitioners / approaches until you find one that you feel hopeful about.
Don’t give up.
The most difficult paths often lead to the most beautiful destinations.
(A list of UK energy healers I have worked with: 10 best healers in the UK.)
How to find a therapist or healer
You should know which professional organisations the therapist is with and their qualifications.
Here’s a few more recommended questions; feel free to ask your therapist any others that concern you:
- How many sessions will I have?
- What type of therapy do you offer?
- How much will it cost?
- What happens if I miss a session?
- What happens if I want to take a holiday, will I still have to pay?
- Will the counselling be confidential?
- Will you make notes during the session, and if so, what happens to these?
- Can I contact my therapist in between sessions?
The therapist should provide confirmation her terms and/or of your working agreement in writing (by email) and advance notice of any holidays.
Bear in mind that, because energy medicine is a relatively new field, traditional counselling and psychotherapy organisations – and insurance companies – take a dim view of different modalities being combined in one session.
Therefore, if your counsellor / therapist / healer is using the intregrative approach I mentioned above, they may have to structure your sessions to fit within their accrediting body’s and insurer’s guidelines.
You can ask them about how they would combine approaches in one session.
Global online services for short term support
Online therapy is increasingly popular worldwide. Over the last decade numerous research studies have shown the effective potential of online therapeutic conversation.
Online therapy can be a more anonymous way of accessing support, therefore it bypasses the stigma and shame some people feel about seeking help. Some people view the fact that they do not have to be physically present with a therapist as a plus.
Counselling by email and instant messaging is on the rise amongst young people too.
* Please avoid the organisation Better Health. It has been widely promoted to younger audiences, but there has been serious doubts about this commercial organisation’s screening process (2018).
Heal childhood trauma in the UK
The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy runs an online directory where you can search for qualified and accredited counsellors in your local area. See the BACP’s UK-wide Counselling Directory here.
Counselling referrals may be available from GP surgeries, with some offering in-house short-term counselling services. There are many low cost face-to-face counselling options available without having to go through your GP or the NHS.
Mental health charity Mind offers low cost counselling at branches across the UK.
Heal childhood trauma in London
If you are based in London, UK, there are many options for exploring and taking care of your emotional and psychological health.
Good therapy doesn’t need to be expensive.
There are various specialist bereavement, drug/alcohol and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender counselling services in London too.
Some agencies take clients from any location, some will only take residents of the borough in which the service lies.
My path to heal childhood trauma
I committed to 2 years of counselling and 2 years of psychotherapy as part of my training to be a BACP qualified counsellor in the UK. Personally, this course requirement was a great excuse to have weekly personal development without the stigma of ‘being unwell’, unstable or having to wear the “I have a problem” T-shirt.
Despite some symptoms of childhood trauma in adulthood, as a HSP I tend to get anxious rather than depressed.
I decided to seek help in my mid-thirties as I’d had a run of bad experiences, particularly workplace bullying.
On my path to heal childhood trauma, I discovered many wonderful healers and modalities. I became so inspired that I trained as a psychotherapeutic counsellor and energy healer myself.
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