Whilst until fairly recently most therapists believed that in order to overcome the trauma we experienced as children and to recover the most important thing was to have our traumatic experiences validated by an enlightened witness and to relive them in a safe environment with an emotional supportive therapist, there is a growing school of thought that such an approach of encouraging trauma survivors to revisit extremely painful past experiences is not strictly necessary in order to get better and that the real key is to understand the effect our trauma has had on how we think, feel and behave are normal responses to abnormal events (which was a prime reason why I started this site).
The power of obtaining this knowledge is so important as it helps us to accept ourselves as we are in a compassionate manner and stop torturing ourselves with ideas of being crazy or of being intrinsically bad or inadequate people.
However, when we are in a traumatized state, we may find we are locked into fight/flight mode, feelings constantly fearful, tense, and on edge. This can have the effect of essentially shutting down the prefrontal cortex which is the part of the brain responsible for rational and logical thinking. This impairs our ability to understand the intricacies of how our traumatic childhood has affected us. So what is to be done?
The answer is that, before the necessary work can be done Involving the prefrontal cortex and helping the person understand what has happened to him and how it has affected his behavior and relationships etc., it is first useful to begin using bottom-up therapy that helps restore feelings of safety and regulate the nervous system. You can read more about ‘bottom-up’ therapies here.
Please also see my related post that helps explain ‘bottom up’ therapy by reading my post: Treating trauma: the brain as a staircase metaphor.