28 Years of Clinical Experience
PhD Counseling Psychology
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Childhood Trauma Therapy
What is childhood trauma therapy?
Trauma is an emotional response to a unfortunate event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives. Psychologists can help these individuals find constructive ways of managing their difficult emotions.
About childhood emotional trauma
There are six well-known types of Emotional Abuse:
Parents or caregivers who display rejecting behavior toward a child will often [purposefully or unconsciously] let a child know, in a variety of ways, that he or she is unwanted. Putting down a child’s worth or belittling their needs are some ways this type of emotional abuse may manifest. Other examples can include telling a child to leave, or worse, to get out of your face, calling him names or telling the child that he is worthless, making a child the family scapegoat or blaming him for family/sibling problems. Refusing to talk to or hold a young child as he grows can also be considered abusive behavior.
Adults who have had few of their emotional needs met are often unable to respond to the needs of their children. They may not show attachment to the child or provide positive nurturing. They may show little interest in the child, or withhold affection or even fail to recognize the child’s presence. Many times the parent is physically there but emotionally unavailable. Failing to respond to or consistently interact with your child constitutes emotional and psychological abuse.
Parents who use threats, yelling and cursing are doing serious psychological damage to their children. Singling out one child to criticize and punish or ridiculing her for displaying normal emotions is abusive. Threatening a child with harsh words, physical harm, abandonment or in extreme cases death is unacceptable. Even in jest/teasing causing a child to be terrified by the use of threats and/or intimidating behavior is some of the worst kind of emotional abuse. This includes witnessing, hearing or knowing that violence is taking place in the home.
A parent who abuses a child through isolation may not allow the child to engage in appropriate activities with his or her peers; may keep a baby in his or her room, unexposed to stimulation or may prevent teenagers from participating in extracurricular activities. Requiring a child to stay in his or her room from the time school lets out until the next morning, restricting eating, or forcing a child to isolation or seclusion by keeping her away from family and friends can be destructive and considered emotional abuse depending on the circumstances and severity.
Parents who corrupt may permit children to use drugs or alcohol, watch cruel behavior toward animals, watch or look at inappropriate sexual content or to witness or participate in criminal activities such as stealing, assault, prostitution, gambling, etc. Encouraging an underage child to do things that are illegal or harmful is abusive and should be reported.
Giving a child responsibilities that are greater than a child of that age can handle or using a child for profit is abusive. Exploitation can be considered manipulation or forced activity without regard for a child’s need for development. For instance, repeatedly asking an eight-year-old to be responsible for the family’s dinner is inappropriate.
About childhood physical and sexual abuse
Physical and sexual abuse poses a threat to a child’s life or physical safety. These events are frightening, dangerous, or violent.
- physical injury
- rape or molestation
- natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, or fires
- serious accidents or life threatening illness
- violent loss of a loved one
- sexual exploitation
- refugee and war experiences
- community and school violence
- witnessing or experiencing family or partner violence
- military stressors like loss, injury, or parental deployment
Effects of Childhood Trauma
The effects of childhood trauma can be different for everyone. Adults dealing with PTSD from childhood trauma can struggle in their jobs, interpersonal relationships, and with their own mental health.
Here are some signs to be aware of:
- panic attacks
- poor concentration
- problems with sleep
- chronic health conditions
- chronic stress and inflammation
- eating disorders
- suicidal ideation
Childhood trauma therapy
Dr. Zebel utilizes psychodynamic therapy and education to help you uncover difficult feelings, urges, and thoughts that are painful regarding your childhood trauma. Even though these painful feelings, urges, and thoughts may be outside of your awareness, they can still influence your behavior. You and Dr. Zebel will work together to identify current negative behaviors and symptoms rooted in your childhood trauma with the goal of finding improved coping mechanisms and reduction of symptoms.
Together you will create a clear and collaborative treatment plan that is mutually agreed upon and she will recommend the use of prescription medications only when needed and agreed upon with the individual.