Childhood Trauma Recovery: Useful Links
Here you can learn about scientifically validated treatments for complex and severe mental illness.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) provides children and families who experience or witness traumatic events access to services and works to increase the standard of care offered by such services.
This organization promotes the advancement and exchange of knowledge about traumatic stress including the consequences of experiencing trauma, treating these consequences and prevention of traumatic events.
Offers support to survivors of child abuse, as well as to their friends and families.
One of the U.K.’s leading mental health charities explains PTSD and complex-PTSD, including possible causes and ways to obtain support and treatment.
Information from U.K.’s National Health Service about borderline personality disorder (BPD) including possible causes and treatments.
besselvanderkolk.net (Leading Trauma Expert)
Bessel van der Kolk is one of the world’s top experts on the effects of trauma on children and adults and, according to his website, he has a special interest in the physiological effects of trauma and the importance of stabilizing these effects in treatment as well as of increasing executive function and of increasing individuals’ feelings of alertness and of living in the ‘here and now.’ Specific treatments of interest to Bessel van der Kolk include EMDR, yoga and neurofeedback.
Alice Miller (1923-2010) was a leading world expert on the effects of maltreatment of children and was the author of 13 books translated into 30 languages.
The official website of R.D. Laing refers to him as a ‘controversial figure’ and ‘hero to the counter-culture movement of the 1960s’ as well as a ‘pioneering humanitarian whose works displayed an authentic existential understanding of psychosis.’
Somatic Experiencing is a therapy developed by Dr Peter Levine which focuses on the body in its approach to healing the adverse effects of trauma and aims to alleviate the condition of those who are ‘stuck’ in the ‘fight / flight / freeze’ response and to reduce or eliminate associated symptoms.
The main aim of this project is to increase public awareness of the effects of trauma.
This organization is committed to empowering recovery and increasing resilience of those affected by complex trauma.
Support and advocate services for those suffering from BPD who live in Australia.
STEPS TO RECOVERY FROM CHILDHOOD TRAUMA
Research shows those who suffer childhood trauma CAN and DO recover.
Making significant changes in life can be a very daunting prospect, but those who do it in order to aid their own recovery from childhood trauma very often find the hard work most rewarding.
Some people find making the necessary changes difficult, whereas others find it enjoyable.
Change does not occur instantly. Psychologists have identified the following stages building up to change:
1) not even thinking about it.
2) thinking about it.
3) planning it.
4) starting to do it.
5) maintaining the effort to continue doing it.
Each individual’s progress in recovery is unique, but, generally, the more support the trauma survivor has, the quicker the recovery is likely to occur.
Often recovery from childhood trauma is not a steady progression upwards – there are usually ups and downs (e.g two steps forward…one step back…two steps forward etc) but the OVERALL TREND is upwards (if you imagine recovery being represented on the vertical axis of a graph and time by the horizontal). Therefore, it is important not to become disheartened by set-backs along the recovery path. These are normal.
Sometimes, one can even feel one at first is getting worse (usually if traumas, long dormant, are being processed by the mind in a detailed manner for the first time). However, once the trauma has been properly consciously reprocessed, although this is often painful, it enables the trauma survivor to work through what happened and to form a new, far more positive, understanding of himself or herself.
Once the trauma has been reworked (i.e understanding what happened and how it has affected the survivor’s development) he or she can start to develop a more positive and compassionate view of him/herself (for example, realizing that the abuse was not their fault can relieve strong feelings of guilt and self-criticism).
Once the reworking phase has been passed through, improvement tends to become more consistent and more rapid.
STEPS TO RECOVERY
It is important to remember that, no matter how severe our particular experiences of childhood trauma were, people can, and do, recover from such experiences if they undergo an appropriate form of therapy; dialectical behavioural therapy, or DBT for example, is now well established by research findings to be a very effective treatment.
In analysing the recovery process from childhood trauma, it is possible to break it down into seven stages; I present these stages below :
RECOVERY STAGES :
1) The first very important thing to do is to stop seeing ourselves as abnormal because of the effect our childhood trauma has had on us, but, instead, to see our symptoms/resultant behaviours as A NORMAL REACTION TO ABNORMAL EVENTS/EXPERIENCES.
It is very important to realize that it is highly probable that other people would have been affected in a very similar way to how we ourselves have been affected had they suffered the same adverse experiences that we did.
Coming to such a realization is, I think, important if we wish to keep up our self-esteem.
2) A very therapeutic effect can often be achieved by opening up about our traumatic experiences and how we feel they have affected us by talking to others we trust about such matters.
3) If at all possible, it is important that, during the recovery process, we are in an environment in which we feel safe and secure, and which is as stress – free as possible.
4) It is also extremely important that we try to resume normal everyday activities and interpersonal relationships as soon as possible, even if this requires some effort at first. Indeed, the research suggests a recovery is very difficult if we do not re-establish human relationships. Also, we need to try to build some structure into our daily lives, as this provides a foundation of stability.
5) We need to accept that we may need much more rest than the average person – this is because the brain needs time to recover. In relation to this, getting the correct nutrients and sufficient sleep (I needed far more than 8 hours during my recovery) is also very important.
6) We also need to realize that while our experience of trauma entailed a great deal of suffering, many people not only recover from childhood trauma but develop as a human being in extremely positive ways as a result of it; this phenomenon is known as posttraumatic growth.
7) Therapy should be seriously considered as there are now many studies which provide extremely solid evidence, as referred to above, that therapies such as dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) can be highly effective.
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