Understanding & Treating Childhood Trauma
By Zacharias Laughlin
It is likely that each one of us will experience traumatic events at some point in our lives, though we may never attribute the term trauma to that hard time in our lives. Trauma can be defined as “an emotional wound or shock often having long-lasting effects” (www.vocabulary.com). Statistically, there is a great chance you may have already experienced trauma without even knowing it.
A tool has been created to explore the types of emotional and traumatic wounds in the lives of children, and it is called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) questionnaire. A study on the prevalence of ACES showed that 64% of children ages 0-17 experience at least one of the following prior to turning 18:
- Physical abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Physical neglect
- Emotional neglect
- Alcoholic parent
- Mother experienced domestic violence
- Incarcerated family member
- Mentally ill family member
- Disappearance of a parent through divorce, death, or abandonment
That list contains many events that have been deemed as common, but there are many items not on the questionnaire that can also occur and can wound us. The ACES study found that as the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk of smoking, alcohol use, drug use, health problems, unplanned pregnancies, depression, and attempted suicide. The truth of the matter is that we cannot change what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond to those events.
Coping mechanisms are how we respond to trauma, and they can either be positive or negative. Unfortunately, those who have experienced a greater number of ACEs are more likely to cope negatively. The good news is that no one has to live life bound by their past, and it is possible to learn how to cope positively.
Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) is a critical new program at Christian Family Solutions in Minnesota. This program aims to bring healing to children through separate sessions with a therapist and an individual skills worker. The therapist works with children to help bring healing to the wounds they have experienced in life. The skills worker aids in the development of healthy coping mechanisms, in either the home or the clinic setting. Both roles are vital. If children learn healthy coping skills but do not receive therapy, the wounds may remain under the surface. Likewise, if children go through therapy but do not practice the skills work, they may have peace internally yet lack the ability to demonstrate their inward reality through their actions.
Our desire at Christian Family Solutions is to heal and help those in need, through evidence-based practices and God’s blessing. We believe that the CTSS program will extend help to the next generation, that they may grow up having obtained healing and restoration in light of their past and be victorious in their future.
To learn more about services provided through CTSS that address childhood trauma, and to learn more about outpatient counseling for those who have experienced trauma, contact us at 800.438.1772 or click here to request an appointment.