There is Hope After Childhood Trauma

For the last 10 years I have sat alongside many beautiful, resilient people who have allowed me the privilege of holding with them the deepest, and most intimate details of their lives. To be given this privilege has transformed me. It has allowed me to understand the capacity of the human spirit, to witness true expressions of courage, and appreciate the power of human connection. 

Much of my work as a therapist over the last decade has centered on supporting folks who are healing from complex trauma (also known as relational or developmental trauma). That is, I have worked with folks who are healing childhoods marked by repeated exposure to emotional abuse / neglect, physical abuse, and/or sexual abuse. 

Trauma is defined as any event or series of events that leaves a person feeling helpless, out of control, and outside of their capacity to cope. Trauma is an individualized experience, in that what may be traumatic for one person, may not be traumatic for another. Trauma is as much about what happened as it is about what did not happen. While a child is adapting and learning to navigate their environments in a way that minimizes distress and harm, they do not have the opportunity to move through developmental milestones, such as learning skills to understand their emotions, build positive interpersonal relationships with peers, manage interpersonal conflict, and so forth. Experiencing trauma in childhood can severely impact a person’s sense of safety within themselves, with others, and in the world. 

Consequently, survivors of traumatic childhoods may experience or engage in the following: 


Difficulty coping with stress
The tendency to be easily overwhelmed
Outbursts of anger 
High levels of anxiety
The tendency to emotionally numb 
Fear of abandonment and/or rejection
Chronic sense of feeling unsafe


Tendencies toward aggression
Substance or process addiction
Always scanning for potential threat (hyper-vigilance) 
Avoidance behaviours
Engaging in “risky” or impulsive behaviours


Difficulty trusting others
Fear of intimacy / closeness with others
A deep yearning to feel connected to others but fearful of it all at once
“People pleasing”
Becoming too close to others too quickly


Chronic pain
Chronic fatigue
Autoimmune disorders 
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Difficulty sleeping  


Thoughts of suicide 
Tendencies toward perfectionism
Negative thoughts about the world/others/oneself
Self-critical thoughts 
Difficulties with focus and concentration
Difficulties with remembering things
Self-blaming thoughts
Feeling internally fragmented 
Feeling the world around you is not real (derealization)
Feeling disconnected/feeling like you are not real (depersonalization) 

*Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of experiences 

If you find yourself identifying with or experiencing anything from the list above, I invite you to take a breath. Take a moment to ground yourself.

Remember this:

You are not alone 
You are not broken, damaged or flawed
You are capable of healing 
You can find hope 
Safety can be felt again
There are people in the world who want to support you 
You are lovable (even if you don’t always feel that way)
You are worth knowing
You matter 
Your story and experiences matter 

Healing the wounds of childhood trauma typically follows three broad phases:

1. Establishing safety and stabilization 

2. Remembering, Reconstructing, and Integrating 

3. Reconnecting with yourself and others to move toward your most desired life

Over the course of several weeks, I am going to do a “deep dive” into each step of healing to support you in more deeply understanding yourself and your experiences. You deserve to feel happy, safe and free. You deserve to feel at home within yourself.

If you identified with any of the information in this article and are interested in working with a practitioner to begin processing your childhood experiences, please reach out to one of our psychotherapists or connect with our Client Care Coordinator at [email protected] to get matched with the right practitioner for you. 

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