Blog Mental Health Trauma Efficient Methods to Address Childhood Trauma 

Efficient Methods to Address Childhood Trauma 

Are you experiencing signs of emotional distress without any obvious cause? 

If you’ve been through disturbing or terrifying events in the past, your symptoms make a lot of sense. What you may be experiencing is a series of symptoms that are related to a traumatic history. They can manifest as difficulties with relationships, self-esteem issues, distress and burnout, or an overall disconnection from yourself, other people, and the world around you. 

Fortunately, mental health interventions may be helpful for addressing traumatic experiences of the past. Although the idea of going to a mental health professional may seem intimidating, research has shown that it can help enhance people’s quality of life and reduce trauma-related symptoms. 

We recommend contacting a professional who will guide you through this process and provide you with effective skills and tools to help you cope with your distress.  

This article explores examples of childhood trauma and the potential consequences of not addressing them effectively. We will also discuss methods that may be effective for addressing childhood trauma that might be recommended by a professional. Let’s get started. 

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What are some examples of childhood trauma?

Before we explore ways that may be helpful for dealing with childhood trauma, it’s important to understand the definition of childhood trauma and the different forms it may take.  

Child trauma occurs when a child witnesses or experiences an adverse event that makes them feel intimidated, scared, unsafe, or unable to cope with the situation at hand(14).

Childhood trauma can take several forms. Examples of childhood trauma include: 

  • Witnessing violence
  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional abuse and emotional neglect 
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse (8)

Witnessing violence

This occurs when a child witnesses any type of violence. This is not limited to the home environment. It could be school violence or even an act of terrorism. 

When they witness any form of violence, the child may feel immediate threat and terror and may internalize the belief that the world is a dangerous place. As a result, their nervous system either shuts down or remains in a state of dysregulation as a means of preparing them for future threats. 

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healing childhood trauma  

Physical neglect

Neglect is a type of abuse that occurs when a person doesn’t have their basic needs met, such as water, shelter, and food. There are other types of neglect that include emotional neglect (e.g. the parents don’t provide love, guidance, and emotional support to the child), educational neglect (this happens when a caregiver doesn’t enroll a child at school or make arrangements to homeschool them), and medical neglect (when a parent doesn’t look after their child’s health and may avoid seeking medical attention) (10).

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is a non-physical behavior that may attempt to control, isolate, or frighten somebody else. It can also be present in romantic relationships where threats, excessive jealousy, insults, constant monitoring, manipulation, humiliation, intimidation, and dismissiveness become a “normal” thing in communication (13). Emotional abuse may have long-lasting consequences on a person’s ability to develop trust in people or build genuine emotional intimacy with another person. 

Physical abuse

Physical abuse may manifest in aggressive and violent behavior toward another person that results in bodily injury and physical pain. 

Physical abuse can involve punching, biting, kicking, beating, choking, burning, or shaking, which can result in permanent harm. 

Physical abuse may be present between parents and children or between intimate partners.

Individuals who experience physical abuse often feel helpless, fearful, and isolated. (2)

Sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse refers to any sexual activity involving a minor that can be initiated by an adult or another minor. According to the American Psychological Association, sexual abuse is “any nonconsensual or exploitive sexual behavior or activity imposed on an individual without their consent”.  Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina states in an article that there are two major types of child sexual abuse: touching and non-touching (12). 

Read more: What Childhood Trauma Do I Have?

How childhood trauma can affect peoples’ lives

People who have experienced childhood trauma may present with symptoms of aggression, sadness, or distress for no apparent reason. This can negatively impact their quality of life. People may also struggle in interpersonal relationships, for example, they may experience difficulties building trust with others. In some cases, any unexplained behavior or symptoms may point to a previous traumatic event that hasn’t been processed and healed. This isn’t always the case for unexplained behavior or symptoms, but it is one avenue to explore them through.  

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However, not everyone feels prepared or ready to dive into their past and seek support for the pain they are experiencing, but sooner or later they may find themselves in similar situations and life patterns. When this happens, one thing they can do is recognize that they’re struggling and seek support from a trauma-informed mental health professional, if this is an affordable and realistic option for them.

In some situations, addressing childhood trauma in therapy can help prevent and reverse problems arising in people’s dating lives, careers, and physical and emotional health. 

Childhood trauma in adults can have different effects, and it can impair their emotional and physical health. Childhood trauma may trigger one of the following manifestations:

  1. A higher risk of mental health issues 
  2. Lack of self-worth
  3. Problems in relationships
  4. Issues with physical well-being
  5. Cognitive issues such as problems with memory and concentration(1)

healing childhood trauma  

A higher risk of mental health issues 

Traumatic events are associated with a high risk of mental health issues. A 2023 study found that conscious memories of childhood trauma can hinder mental health issues (3). That being said, therapists are asked to adopt trauma-informed therapy approaches to avoid overwhelming patients or potentially allowing them to be retraumatised by revisiting negative experiences from the past (17). Therefore, it’s important to seek help from trustworthy therapists who have expertise or experience in working with trauma survivors.

If you have PTSD or any other mental health condition, please consult a mental health specialist. 

Lack of self-worth

People who have been abused or neglected during their childhood may develop the belief that they don’t deserve to be loved, among other maladaptive beliefs. A lack of self-worth may lead to deep emotional pain and trigger episodes of depression and anxiety. In the long term, this may lead to people entering and remaining in unfulfilling relationships due to an internalized sense of unworthiness, among other consequences childhood trauma may have on peoples’ lives (1).

Problems in relationships

Childhood trauma may result in an ongoing pattern of difficult relationships – both personal and professional – that may be characterized by a lack of trust. Surviving traumatic stress during childhood may evoke confusion, fear, shame, and an inability to depend on other people.

People with such experiences may struggle to trust other people, ask for help, or share their feelings and emotions with others (1).

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Issues with physical well-being

In addition to impacting people’s mental and emotional health, previous trauma may also leave traces on their physical well-being. Studies have shown that children who experience trauma may experience physical well-being problems in adulthood (15). 

If you are experiencing physical health issues, please consult a healthcare professional or physician.

Cognitive Issues 

A traumatized brain may have difficulties with memory, concentration, focus, decision-making, or other cognitive skills. Research has shown that untreated trauma may strongly impact cognitive functioning (16). 

This means that it may be difficult for childhood trauma survivors to memorize things, think logically, or solve problems (1).

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Potential childhood trauma after-effects 

According to a 2010 article by Alexander C. McFarlane, the “effects of traumatic stress need to be considered as a major environmental challenge that places individual’s physical and psychological health equally at risk”(7). How people cope with childhood trauma varies from person to person and due to different environments. In some cases, the after-effects of childhood trauma may be mitigated with time, but in other cases, the stress of everyday life combined with past traumatic experiences may become overwhelming. As everyone’s experience is personal, it’s important that people who are struggling find the best support that is accessible to them, whether this is through psychotherapy, reading and learning more about trauma side-effects and coping skills (books such as “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk, MD), or reaching out to loved ones for support. 

Why is childhood trauma so painful?

Whether it’s severe or mild trauma, any distressing event is painful, especially when it’s experienced as a child. People may feel stressed, scared, perplexed, and/or helpless. The world may not seem safe to them anymore. This feeling can be aggravated when childhood trauma is inflicted by a parent or another person the trauma survivor trusted and may continue to trust. 

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Childhood trauma may influence life choices and manifest in negative ways, such as:

  • Living with an unsupportive or abusive partner
  • Working in a deeply unfulfilling job
  • Living in an environment you’re not happy with 
  • Using alcohol and drugs to numb feelings and avoid painful memories 
  • Allowing people to cross your boundaries 

While these situations can be painful and may leave people feeling as if they have no control over them, it’s important that people try to claim control over their lives without allowing childhood trauma to continue to affect them years later. While identifying ways in which childhood trauma may be affecting your life years later can be anxiety-producing, working on adaptive coping skills to enhance your quality of life may help.

What are ways to cope with childhood trauma?

We’ve identified five strategies that may support people while they’re coping with childhood trauma. They can be helpful and support overall well-being. They can also help people feel better and stay motivated to take good care of themselves.  Better choices can lead to good habits and good habits can lead to the life people truly deserve. 

These methods include: 

  1. Admitting the problem. If you’ve become aware that childhood trauma is affecting your physical and emotional well-being, it may be helpful to first acknowledge the struggle. It may also be helpful to reach out to seasoned professionals who specialize in childhood trauma treatment, if that is an option, or to read about coping skills from trustworthy sources that can best support you in this journey.
  2. Having good social support. People who are dealing with the after-effects of childhood trauma may benefit from surrounding themselves with people who respect their boundaries and make them feel safe. If someone feels uncomfortable discussing their childhood trauma with a friend group or family member, it may be helpful to reach out to a mental health provider who will provide that context for them(14).
  3. Picking up stress-reduction activities. Somatic Yoga and Somatic Meditation deserve to be on this list. Studies have suggested that both of these practices improve self-confidence, balance, and stability (6). For more information, read our  28-day Somatic Exercise for Trauma Relief article. These practices may help boost self-confidence and awareness of personal needs. In addition, mindfulness techniques may also help with stress regulation (14).
  4. Staying physically active and eating nutritious meals. Physical exercise and versatility in your diet can go far beyond optics. They can lead to:
  • Better mood
  • Reduced stress
  • Increased self-esteem (9)
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When it comes to nutrition, it’s important to focus on what you can add to your plate rather than what you can take off it. It’s important to feed your body with various nutrients from all types of foods, including vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes, oats, and rice. The more natural foods you can add to your diet, the better your gut health will be. Gut and brain health are closely related (18).  

  1. Cutting out drugs and limiting alcohol use. Alcohol and drugs are undoubtedly damaging and can lead to long-term adverse effects on physical and mental well-being (5). Reducing and/or limiting their intake may be highly supportive of your mental health. If you need more help battling an addiction, please seek advice from an addiction mental health specialist. 

These ways of coping with childhood trauma can be more effective when they’re combined with seeing a mental health professional. You should consider talk therapy, such as trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy. This can help change how you understand your thoughts, behaviors, and feelings, and identify healthy ways of coping with the lasting effects of traumatic events (14).

Read more: Healing Childhood Trauma Methods That Really Work

healing childhood trauma  


  • Do you ever fully heal from trauma?

Although trauma can have long-lasting effects on your well-being, people can identify sustainable and adaptive coping skills through the help of a mental health professional. There’s no black-or-white answer regarding whether you can fully heal from childhood trauma. It’s always beneficial to contact a mental health specialist or healthcare provider as they can shed light on effective ways for coping with childhood trauma outcomes. 

If you have any mental health condition, please consult a mental health professional.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the concept of childhood trauma. There are several forms of childhood trauma, including witnessing violence, physical neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. 

Adults who don’t heal from childhood traumas may or may not encounter the following negative effects: a higher risk of mental illness, lack of self-worth, problems in relationships, issues with physical health, problems with cognitive abilities, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Helpful coping skills include admitting the problem, having good social support, picking up stress-reduction activities, remaining physically active, and eating nutritious meals, in addition to cutting out drugs and limiting alcohol use. 

We also recommend that you talk to a mental health professional who can provide you with support and tools that may be supportive of your mental health. 


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not serve to address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for making any kind of decision. Any action that is taken as a direct result of the information in this article is entirely at your own risk and responsibility. If you have PTSD or any other mental health condition, please consult a mental health specialist.


  1. 5 Ways Childhood Trauma Impacts Young Adults (
  2. APA Dictionary of Psychology (2023,
  3. Associations Between Objective and Subjective Experiences of Childhood Maltreatment and the Course of Emotional Disorders in Adulthood (2023,
  4. Childhood Adversity and Adult Chronic Disease (2010,
  5. Drugs, alcohol & mental health (
  6. Effectiveness of Somatic Yoga and Meditation: A Pilot Study in a Multicultural Cancer Survivor Population with Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (2020,
  7. Experiencing childhood trauma makes body and brain age faster (2020,
  8. Five Forms of Childhood Trauma: Relationships With Aggressive Behavior in Adulthood (2012,
  9. Mental health (
  10. Neglect vs. abuse: What is the difference? (2023,
  11. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (
  13. What Is Emotional Abuse (
  14. What ways can childhood trauma affect people? (2023,
  15. The long-term costs of traumatic stress (2010, PubMed Central) 
  16. Childhood trauma associated with poorer cognitive performance (2012, PubMed Central)
  17. Making Trauma Therapy Safe (2015,
  18. Brain’s Got the Sh*ts Again (2022, by Daphne Spyropoulos)
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