Traditional therapy and counseling are important, but if you're dealing with childhood trauma, have you considered alternate methods of healing? It may just be the answer you were looking for. We sat down with YourTango Experts Lorna Minewiser, Kim Saunders, and Paula Shaw to discuss how alternate methods of treatment may be beneficial to moving on from your unhappy and/or traumatic childhood.
Saunders begins by telling the story of two brothers who both grew up with an alcoholic, abusive father. One grews up to become just like his father, while the other became a successful businessman. How did this happen? "Often we're seduced into believing that events control our lives and that our environment has shaped who we are today. It's not simply the events that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean," she explains.
As a licensed psychotherapist, life coach and yoga teacher, Saunders has experienced first-hand what works with patients, and what doesn’t. "Years of talking through problems allow the client to feel supported and heard but talking alone will not change their beliefs. What is needed is an intervention in their nervous system. Habits and beliefs become part of our physiology and consequently we hold our bodies in certain habitual patterns."
And this requires deeper thought and more effort into understanding the past. Shaw offers an explanation of how it is often difficult to think back on the past. "When dealing with childhood trauma, it is important to note that these issues are pesky and often hard to deal with. Think back on your childhood right now for a moment. Do you see sharp clear memories or hazy emotionally charged visions? I find that often when we relate to childhood, we are relating to the things we felt, not just what occurred. So it's often hard to make "sense" of negative things that happened to us as children. We often question, did I overreact to that because I was young and didn't understand it? Or was it worse than I remember? Have I buried something somewhere? It's a headache!"
She adds, "The detrimental impact of trauma is usually stored in the sub-conscious mind, which means we don't even have access to it through conscious thought. In such a case, the person with the problem might be completely baffled by their thoughts and behaviors and have no idea why they are happening."
This is where Energy Psychology (EP) comes in to play. EP, which is coaching and healthcare treatment that works with the mind-body connection, has been proven to work to rapidly help patients move on from their childhood traumas. Minewiser notes a study done by Kaiser Permanent Insurance in the 1990s. The study included 17,337 participants and attempted to see how childhood trauma affected their adult lives. She explains, "The categories of "Adverse Childhood Events" (ACEs) include physical, sexual and emotional abuse, physical and emotional neglect and growing up in a seriously dysfunctional household that included: alcohol or substance abuse, parental discord (separation or divorce), a mentally ill or suicidal family member, witnessing domestic violence, and crime (including imprisonment of a family member). More than one third of the over 17,000 participants had experienced at least one of these ten categories and more than 2000 experienced more than five. The study also found a strong correlation between the number of ACEs and a variety of illnesses."
She goes on to explain that Energy Psychology is helpful in changing the "toxic energy around those early memories. Although we don't yet have the brain scan research to prove it yet, energy practitioners and researchers have found again and again that memories can change. We suspect that we are actually changing the network connections in the brain, and perhaps even setting up the environment to grow new brain cells and connections. Energy Psychology techniques are the way to approach these old painful memories in a gentle way and leave behind an unhappy childhood."
More scientific proof suggests that energy plays a large role in how we perceive our past memories. Shaw explains that, in the last decade, Quantum Physics has proven that everything (yes, everything!) is vibrating at different frequencies. This includes inanimate objects such as plants, water, your skin, and even your behavior and thoughts. "Energy is mutable; it is changing all the time. This is good news because it gives us the ability to heal the damage caused by childhood trauma by simply shifting or eliminating those problematic frequencies.
The underlying theory is that trauma causes a disruption in the energy system. The disruptive frequencies create beliefs and the behavior patterns that result from them, seem to get stored in various ways in the body's energy systems, including the neuronal energy of the brain, the electro-magnetic energy of the mind/body, and the subtle energies of the Chakras and Acupuncture Meridians. Methods such as Meridian Tapping, which tap the same points used in acupuncture, while focusing on the problematic thoughts or behaviors, are able to seek out and neutralize those errant frequencies created by the trauma. Subsequently, the resulting problematic thoughts and behaviors stop happening."
If you're not ready to attempt this deeper form of therapy, consider yet similiarly natural option: yoga. Saunders uses an example from her personal life and how yga helped shape her life. "The practice of yoga was my foray into an inner-place of peace and serenity and helped me to deal with my childhood trauma. My father abandoned the family when I was 2 years old and my mother was verbally abusive, frequently letting us know that we were not wanted. My older sister became my surrogate mother and Godsend. She gave me a yoga book when I was 12 years old and I learned to master the Sun Salutations, headstand and other calming poses. Through this practice I found that I became more centered, grounded and confident. I was learning about presence and going inward, teaching me about resiliency, which I greatly needed from the trauma I'd endured.
My fascination grew over the years into learning how to create real shifts in a person dealing with depression, anxiety and trauma. Having been a licensed counselor for nearly 15 years I saw that simply talking about feelings will not necessarily work for many clients. I learned that when we experience a traumatic event we do place a belief onto that event and it gets stored in our nervous system. Your body is very good at letting you know when something is triggering or threatening your belief system if you will pay attention to its signals."
And when your body speaks, you should listen. If you've experienced childhood trauma but find that tradional therapy has not helped, consider taking a different route. Perhaps one of those above suggestions sounds like a viable option. It doesn't hurt to try and who knows — it just may be the option that works best for you!
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