Why should there be awareness about effective childhood trauma healing?
I went to counseling for awhile. For a few years at least. But even before that, I tried medicine to help. Help fill the emptiness I had still felt inside. The never-ending dark cloud over my head.
As I went through undergraduate school and into grad school, I realized something. I realized that I was just surviving. Instead of truly living. I had to find myself, the true me, and the little girl inside that just wanted to be loved, that just wanted to FEEL loved and wanted to feel safe.
I knew that the common counseling that I had been participating in, was not the right treatment I needed for healing. I was not just overcoming a failed relationship, anxiety about careers, or just needing to have some more positive outlooks. I was overall happy with my current life. Everyone around me always said I did an amazing job at being a mom, a student, and always positive in friendships. What they did not know, was that I was still triggered by things that, at the time, I had thought it was just something that was normal and annoying to me. But I realized it is not just an annoyance that bothered me. It was a trigger that I needed to identify and learn the why behind it. I realized I was expecting love, friendship, praise, or even security, from others instead of myself. I needed to give that to myself though, I deserved that.
With diving deep into my inner child to understand the triggers in my adult life helped me to actually make progress with what I continued to feel. Sometimes not realizing I was doing these things because of the trauma. Me working on my healing was really needed. Needed more than I knew.
For so many, I’m sure you hear people say to just…
“forgive and move on.” Or “the past is the past.”
And then you think, Forgive who? I’m supposed to forgive my abuser? Move on from trauma that has impacted my development as a child that you can’t just shake it off, be rid of and carry on about your day like it never happened? The mind and body don’t forget even though you think the past shouldn’t stay in our present life.
The statement of forgiveness is absolutely nothing but a slap in the face to survivors in my opinion. Those who do the harm cannot even admit nor face their own actions. But you expect survivors to? Does that mean I also have to apologize for the triggers that I cannot control or the nightmares that haunted me for years?
With the common counseling theories or techniques used being the vast majority of options out there for people suffering, there needs to be awareness of what will work or what can work when you do not feel like you are getting anywhere.
I was quite shocked at the curriculum at my first graduate school for clinical mental health counseling (side note: wouldn’t recommend that school). Taught old traditional ways of counseling clients and older theories instead of knew information that is widely out there. And because I brought this new information into my studies and into my papers when writing and researching, it was almost as if I was shunned for… maybe knowing too much? Actually learning outside the box? I don’t know, really. Why weren’t we learning about all the new proven techniques for anxiety, depression, anger, trauma, couples etc?
Someone who suffers from complex trauma, often spend years, if not the rest of their life, in counseling. Others may just not even try and continue life with the trauma the best they know-how. We need to help create more environments everywhere that survivors feel heard in, safe and feel like they are actually making progress. Not just talking to a counselor about it. Talking does not help survivors of childhood trauma. It just does not help. (Talking about it in general does help and I always encourage people to live openly and get it out, but it does not stop triggers and reshape your childhood development) Some people may feel like it does. That is always fine and we want what is best for that person and THEIR healing.
The majority of survivors though will say that it did not help. That they still felt stuck even after years of counseling because they still had nightmares, they still did things they didn’t recognize as being a conditioned effect of trauma. They still quietly wondered why they quenched as if someone was running their nails on a chalk board every time someone yelled. Or why they felt on edge and emotional inside while watching a movie or tv show that was violent in nature. Or why with relationships they either clung on for deer life or played hard to get but really begged them to stay if they lost interest? Felt the need to always be with someone but never felt wanted or loved with no rational reason of why they would feel that way? This… is what needs recognized and healed.
In my graduate studies, they want you to pretty much “pick” a counseling technique to go with for your career (Cognitive being the main one everyone chooses). But I questioned it. I question why you should only do one? Why, when there are so many to choose from, can you not incorporate what you see fit for that current client. I get people specialize in certain areas. Like EMDR for instance. However, there are soooo many cognitive behavioral counselors out there and not enough that is doing specific trauma work. After the MeToo movement came about (and let’s be honest, already knowing statistics of events that are traumatizing for years now), I would think it is clear that there should be more that do trauma work with clients.
Another reason for awareness with this is that there are so many false perspectives, whether within our system or within families, about trauma. The movement to be able to make a difference in so many lives and to help others to understand the realities and the truth of the false narratives people have portrayed and believed is so important. This would help to create not only space for survivors, but also to grow knowledge in communities all around about the effective strategies to heal and how to approach cases with victims within our system without the shame or blaming aspects.
We need to normalize the healing of childhood trauma. Normalize being able to openly talk about it and heal in all aspects of the effects of trauma like the few I mentioned above.
One thing I love to say is that, the discussion may make people uncomfortable because of the automatic anxiety around the silence that has consumed it, however, the importance of the discussion needs to become more important than that of the uncomfortableness it may bring to others.
With discussions it brings more awareness, more normalization, more support, more healing, more connection for those who feel they are alone in the battle, more help. More prevention to end generational trauma and to end the silence.
Join me in discussing the realities and stories around childhood trauma. Help me in getting the word out, getting the foot in the door to helping those heal effectively, getting survivors heard, and finally bringing hope in the lives of childhood trauma survivors.