No two individuals will have the same experiences, and the impact of those experiences will vary greatly from person to person. Some may have experienced severe physical or emotional abuse, while others may have faced more subtle forms of trauma, such as neglect or bullying.
Despite the differences in our experiences, there is one thing that we all have in common: we didn’t write our childhood trauma stories from the beginning. We were the innocent victims of circumstances beyond our control. Even though we didn’t write the beginning of our stories, we have the power to control how they end.
It’s important to recognize that healing from childhood trauma is not a linear process. It can be difficult and often involves facing difficult emotions and memories. It can be tempting to try to push these feelings aside and move on, but it’s important to confront and process them to fully heal.
One way to do this is through therapy, which can provide a safe and supportive space to explore and work through these emotions. It can also be helpful to connect with others who have similar experiences, whether through support groups or one-on-one relationships.
Another important aspect of healing is finding healthy ways to cope with and manage the effects of childhood trauma. This may involve finding activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as exercise, art, or meditation. It may also involve setting boundaries and learning to say no when necessary, as well as seeking out supportive and healthy relationships.
Ultimately, the journey toward healing from childhood trauma is a personal one. It will be different for everyone, and it may involve ups and downs. But by recognizing the power we have to shape the ending of our stories, we can find the strength and resilience to heal and move forward in a healthy way.
Here are some helpful tips for overcoming childhood trauma:
Seek professional help: Therapy can provide a safe and supportive space to explore and work through difficult emotions and memories. A therapist can also help you develop coping strategies and tools for managing the effects of childhood trauma.
Connect with others: Joining a support group or talking to others who have similar experiences can provide a sense of validation and belonging. It can also be helpful to have someone to talk to who understands what you’re going through.
Practice self-care: Finding activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as exercise, art, or meditation, can help manage the effects of childhood trauma. It’s also important to prioritize sleep, healthy eating, and other basic self-care practices to support your overall well-being.
Set boundaries: Learning to set healthy boundaries and say no when necessary can be an important step in healing from childhood trauma. It can help you take control of your life and protect yourself from further harm.
Practice forgiveness: Forgiving yourself and others who have hurt you during childhood can be a challenging but important step in the healing process. It’s a way of letting go of the past, and it can be helpful in terms of self-compassion.
Create a safety plan: Develop a safety plan in case you have a traumatic episode or feel unsafe. This can include identifying triggers, warning signs, and things that you can do to help yourself feel better.
Seek out healthy relationships: Surrounding yourself with supportive and positive people can be an important step in healing from childhood trauma. They can provide a sense of belonging and help you feel less alone.
Remember, healing is not linear and it may take time. But, with the help of a therapist, the support of friends and family, and taking care of yourself, it is possible to overcome childhood trauma.
Starting therapy in the new year can be a great way to kick off the year with a renewed focus on self-improvement and personal growth. Here are just a few reasons why starting therapy in the new year can be beneficial:
New year, new you:
The start of a new year often feels like a fresh start and a chance to set new goals and make positive changes in our lives. Starting therapy can be a great way to prioritize your mental health and work towards becoming the best version of yourself.
Work through holiday stress:
The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people, with added pressure to spend time with family, buy gifts, and attend parties. Starting therapy in the new year can provide a space to process and work through any stress or emotions that may have come up during the holiday season.
Make self-care a priority:
Many people make resolutions to take better care of themselves in the new year, whether it’s exercising more, eating healthier, or getting more sleep. Adding therapy to your self-care routine can help you prioritize your mental health and work towards a happier and healthier overall well-being.
Get support for personal goals:
If you have specific goals you want to achieve in the new year, therapy can provide a supportive space to work toward them. Whether you want to improve your relationships, overcome a personal challenge, or make a career change, therapy can provide the guidance and support you need to achieve your goals.
Take control of your mental health:
Seeking therapy can be a proactive step towards taking control of your mental health and finding ways to manage stress and improve your overall well-being. By starting therapy in the new year, you can set the tone for a year focused on self-care and personal growth.
In short, starting therapy in the new year can be a great way to kick off the year with a renewed focus on self-improvement and personal growth. Whether you’re looking to work through holiday stress, make self-care a priority, or achieve specific goals, therapy can provide the support and guidance you need to make positive changes in your life.
Here at Cedar Rapids Counseling Center, we are here to help you start the new year off right. Reach out below to set up an appointment today
One of the major problems that many couples face is lacking the ability to fight well.
The idea that couples fighting well might sound strange at first. There tends to be a false narrative in our culture that happy couples do not fight.
We imagine this couple that is always sensitive to each other needs, never gets annoyed or upset, and even if they do, they both forgive each other as quickly as the offense happens.
However, this view of marriage and relationships is simply an illusion.
Indeed, some couples do not scream and yell at each other, but this does not automatically mean they are a great couple. They could be withdrawing from each other and ignoring the underlying issues that keep them from connecting deeply.
The bottom line is all couples will face disagreements. All couples will find times when one or both of the spouses are annoyed or upset.
But what separates the champions of relationship from those domed to struggle or breakup or divorce is the way in which they are fighting or how they handle the aftermath of the fight.
Sadly, many couples repeatedly galvanize each other into cycles of defense, criticism, contempt, and stonewall, which researcher John Gottman has shown to be some of the most significant signs of divorce.
So what are you supposed to do if you find yourself in this type of situation?
Part of the problem many of us have is once our emotions flood us, we have a tough time communicating in a way that invites the other person to think about solutions and be open to any repair attempts.
Being flooded and continuing the discussion is a terrible idea.
When I’m working with couples in therapy, I have trained myself to notice when someone is being flooded. Once I observe it happening, I intervene to get that person or the couple time to calm down.
I know nothing can happen until the person or the couple is calmed down.
Being able to calm down is essential for effective communication.
To help you and your spouse achieve effective communcation, I made this visual guide giving you five things you need to do to help stay calm during a fight.
This guide will be especially essential to men, for as Gottman points out,
“Men are more likely to feel physiologically overwhelmed sooner than women during a heated exchange. And it takes less intense negativity for men to get physiologically overwhelmed. [Furthermore,] men are more likely to rehearse destructive, innocent-victim, or vengeful thoughts once they feel flooded.”
Of course, women will benefit from the guide because regardless of gender, they usually do and say things they later regret once a person is flooded.
One of the hardest sessions is when you have a father and the so called “troubled teen” sitting in a counseling office.
Let’s just say that tension can run a bit high.
Usually, the teenager feels like the father will never listen, and the father believes the teen is just obstinate and irrational.
Now here’s where the art comes in.
If the therapist sides with the parent over against the teen, then the counselor loses the teen, and he or she will shut down.
If the therapist sides with the teen against the father, then the counselor will upset the father and the likelihood of them coming back is very slim.
So what’s a counselor to do?
You have to make sure they both feel heard and understood.
How I do it is by letting both teen and father know from the get go that I respect them both deeply and that I can’t take sides initially if this is going to work.
Then I try and “pick on” both of them throughout the session, seeking to get them to see the repetitive fighting cycle they are both stuck in, and if they want something to change, then they are going to have to do something different.
For example, the father might have to slow down a bit and acknowledge the thoughts and feeling of his teenager even if he judges them to be “irrational.”
Or, the son or daughter might need to learn that a father understanding them doesn’t necessarily mean he agrees with his or her requests.
What I have found over and over, is if I can slow the communication process down by helping the father, so love and kindness to the teen and have the teen show respect, then things typically seem to work out.
Here’s what one mother just wrote to me:
“I was pleasantly surprised! Because in the past my husband has been completely unimpressed and not supportive of therapy. But he was impressed with you. He said you are the most knowledgeable of all our therapists and he thought you did a great job.”
One of the biggest mistakes that many of my clients make about counseling is believing that I am going to fix their problems without them having to do anything.
Intellectually, they come in ready to do the work, but fear, lack of motivation, and frustrations with slow progress get in the way of advancing towards their goals. Emotionally, they just want me to do it all for them.
In the therapy world, we call these clients “visitors.”
A primary characteristic of visitors is a lack of commitment to participate productively in treatment.
As a result, they begin to complain and whine about the interventions not working–even though they only tried them once or twice and without any regularity.
At this point, many of my clients tend to drop out.
However, to advance or improve at anything is going to require work, sacrifice, challenging cultural paradigms, and destructive narratives.
What’s needed is courage.
Courage is the ability to stand your ground for a greater good, despite some impending doom.
Obviously, this makes the most sense in warfare. A soldier, defending the common good of the city, is willing to stand his ground and fight the enemy, even though he may feel fear.
Courage, though, is not limited to warfare.
The impending doom could be an unwelcome emotion, a difficulty in a relationship, or change itself.
Change is just scary. And a phenomenon often seen in therapy is clients sabotaging healthy change precisely because change disturbs the usual ways of operation.
If you like it or not, even destructive ways of operating are just more comforting. As an alcoholic once told me, “I don’t struggle with drunkenness. I struggle with sobriety.”
When he’s drunk, he longs to be sober since he sees how destructive his drinking has become. The moment he is sober, the unpleasant emotions and cravings set in and the thought of giving up drink seems insurmountable.
But the only way forward is to preserve and maintain the course of action with diligence, care, and attention.
We therapist call these types of clients “Customers.”
Customers commit to change and are willing to do whatever it takes to see it through.
They have courage, heart, and, even, nerve.
So, what should those clients do who lack courage or the willingness to change?
Luckily, that’s where I come in.
I am trained to work with both visitors and customers.
What I have found is visitors need someone willing to dive right in with them and help them confront their fears.
Standing your ground by yourself can be very scary, but when you have someone skilled and trained right next to you, walking you step by step, the impending doom needn’t feel so imminent.
So if you need a counselor, who is willing to walk next to you and help and assist you in your change, then I am your guy.
I promise I will work just as hard as you and sometimes even harder to get you to your goal.