Coping With Childhood Trauma

Coping With Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma can have lifelong lasting effects, following people into their adolescence and adulthood. Without therapy or healthy coping mechanisms, childhood trauma can result in mental health disorders and/or alcohol or substance use disorders. When coping with this trauma, many individuals find therapy and other services from a team of professionals to be the most beneficial. It is important to reach out and seek help and guidance through childhood trauma in order to foster a happy and healthy life.

At Roots Recovery, there are services and programs offered to help clients push beyond the barriers of their childhood trauma, and create a happy lifestyle with healthy relationships between others and themselves.

Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma is defined as one experiencing trauma from the ages of one to 16. Experiences of trauma can include psychological, physical, or sexual abuse, community or school violence, witnessing or experiencing domestic violence, national disasters or terrorism, commercial sexual exploitation, loss of a loved one, refugee or war experiences, military family-related stressors, physical or sexual assault, neglect, or a serious accident or life-threatening illness.

There are three types of childhood trauma: acute trauma from a single incident, chronic trauma from repeated or prolonged incidents, and complex trauma from exposure to multiple and invasive traumatic events.

About one in seven children experience childhood trauma, and the signs usually differ based on the age of the child. In preschool children, one may experience fear of separation from their parent or caregiver, excessive crying or screaming, poor eating habits and weight loss, and nightmares. Elementary school children may experience fear or anxiety, guilt and shame, difficulty concentrating, and poor sleeping habits. Middle school and high school children may feel depressed or alone, develop eating disorders, have self-harming or self-destructive behaviors, abuse alcohol or drugs, and involve themselves in dangerous sexual behavior. 

How Does Childhood Trauma Impact Someone’s Life Long-Term?

When unaddressed, childhood trauma can have lifelong effects. In general, individuals may have learning problems that result in low grades, suspension, or even expulsion from their school age, increased use of health and mental health services, increased involvement in child welfare or juvenile justice systems, and long-term health problems such as heart disease. 

The overall signs and symptoms of childhood trauma include:

  • Attachment issues such as difficulty trusting others, social isolation, and clinginess or difficulty with separations
  • Physical signs such as hypersensitivity to physical contact, increased medical problems, and poor coordination
  • Regulation issues such as emotional regulation issues, difficulty describing emotions, and difficulty with communication
  • Behavioral signs such as poor impulse control, aggression, sleep disturbance, and eating disorders
  • Cognition symptoms such as difficulty with concentration and focusing, problems with language development, and learning difficulties
  • Self-concept symptoms such as poor body image, low self-esteem, and shame or guilt

Childhood trauma can also result in individuals developing mental health disorders and alcohol or substance use disorders. 

Mental health disorders that may result from childhood trauma include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Substance use disorders (SUDs) may also surface from childhood trauma. Individuals may turn to substances or alcohol in order to cope with their trauma. For some individuals, mental health disorders and SUDs both occur due to childhood trauma. This is considered to be a co-curring disorder. 

Healing From Childhood Trauma at Roots Recovery

When healing from childhood trauma, it is important to remember that everyone experiences trauma differently and one’s trauma may not be the same as another. Everyone’s experiences and traumas, despite their differences, are valid. If someone is still at a young age and healing from trauma, it is important to surround oneself with a supportive community such as friends, family, or other loved ones. At Roots Recovery, a personalized team is created to help with this support system and one’s healing journey as well.

For all clients who have experienced childhood trauma, the staff at Roots Recovery uses trauma-informed care to help them heal and grow. Some therapies offered include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), somatic experiencing, and seeking safety.

In CBT, clients work with their therapist to explore the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Clients work to uncover unhealthy patterns of thinking, understanding how these thoughts relate to their self-destructive behaviors or beliefs. With their therapist, the client learns to develop healthier patterns of thinking to produce healthier behaviors and beliefs. Restructuring these thoughts helps those who have experienced childhood trauma cope with their past.

EMDR is one of the therapies at Roots Recovery where clients repeat a series of back-and-forth eye movements for 20-30 seconds to help stimulate the brain and traumatic events simultaneously. In EMDR, the client works to recharge and change emotional reactions to traumatic events. 

Somatic experiencing at Roots Recovery is a body-oriented approach to healing from trauma and stress disorders. The client and therapist assess the fight, flight, or freeze responses in the client, learning the root cause of trauma symptoms and developing an increased tolerance to difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.

Seeking safety at Roots Recovery uses a counseling model to help clients attain safety from their traumas. Without discussing the trauma narrative in deeper detail, seeking safety helps clients develop safe coping skills. The goals of this program are to achieve safety, integrate trauma and SUD treatment, focus on ideals to counteract losses, use cognitive, interpersonal, behavioral, and case management content areas, and pay attention to clinician processes.

Here at Roots Recovery, we use trauma-informed care to help clients heal from and cope with childhood trauma. Childhood trauma can have lifelong effects, affecting an individual’s attachment, physical and mental health, behavior, and relationships. It is important to seek care and therapy to cope with childhood trauma to have a healthier and happier life moving forward. Roots Recovery offers different therapies to help clients cope with trauma including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), somatic experiencing, and seeking safety. These programs work to help clients understand and persevere past their traumas by introducing healthy coping mechanisms into their lives. To learn more about how we care for clients with childhood trauma, call (562) 473-0827.

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“I am so grateful to be an alumni of Roots. Roots took me from my darkest of places, to the brightest and most beautiful part of life I've ever lived. They genuinely care about their clients. You will not be a number or a paycheck here. After discharging in February, I still receive help and words of wisdom whenever needed. Roots helped me battle things I'd been struggling with for over 14 years and finally put them behind me. I love roots with all my heart, and always will.”


“Just got 365 days sober today all thanks to these people at Roots. And saved my marriage.”


“It's great to see such a high quality of care program in Long Beach! The entire staff shows great care and compassion for their clients. The therapists are among the best around. Their admissions and case management is compassionate and driven to help you succeed! If your looking for help with trauma or substance abuse, this is the place for help!”


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