Childhood trauma occurs more than you may think. More than two thirds of children reported at least 1 traumatic event by age 16. Potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years) such as experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect; witnessing violence in the home; and having a family member attempt or die by suicide. Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding such as growing up in a household with substance misuse, mental health problems, or instability due to parental separation or incarceration of a parent, sibling or other member of the household. Traumatic events in childhood can be emotionally painful or distressing and can have effects that persist for years. Factors such as the nature, frequency and seriousness of the traumatic event, prior history of trauma, and available family and community support can shape a child’s response to trauma.
Facts About Adult and Childhood Trauma
More than 25% of American youth experience a serious traumatic event by their 16th birthday, and many children suffer multiple and repeated traumas. Common sources of trauma include child abuse and neglect; serious accidental injury; disasters and terrorism; experiencing or witnessing violence in neighborhoods, schools and homes; and treatment for life-threatening illness (medical trauma).
Signs of traumatic stress include fear, anger, withdrawal, trouble concentrating, digestive problems, and nightmares. Behavior disorders and “acting-out” can also be symptoms of trauma. Academic failure, lower drop-out rates, higher rates of absenteeism, expulsion and suspension are associated with students’ exposure to community violence.
A child’s distress may not be obvious or visible. Traumatic stress can interfere with children’s ability to concentrate and learn. Exposure in infancy and early childhood can seriously delay development of their brains and bodies. It can change how children view the world and their own futures, and it can change their behavior, interests and relationships with family, friends and teachers. It can lead to school refusal, absenteeism, educational failure, acting out, school expulsion and suspension. They may try to avoid people and places that are traumatic reminders. They may seem numb because they are trying to avoid feeling their own feelings.
Treatment from a mental health professional who has training and experience working with traumatized individuals can reduce child and adult traumatic stress and minimize physical, emotional, and social problems. Numerous randomized controlled trials have established the benefits of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for children as well for participating caregivers. These positive effects have been found in diverse populations and in children from preschool through adolescence. Studies also suggest that clients and their caregivers may continue to improve after TF-CBT has ended.
Symptoms of Childhood Trauma
Children and adolescents who have been traumatized can develop an intense fear regarding any reminders of the traumatic event. This fear may encourage the child to avoid any traumatic reminders and may not want to talk about what occurred. The child may become more isolated, not express his or her feelings or thoughts, and feel emotional numbing and tension.
Exhibiting one or several of these symptoms or behaviors places the child at risk of having problems at school, of isolating themselves from others, of having conflicts or lack of communication with parents and peers. These symptoms or behaviors, if left untreated, may impede the child’s normal course of development.
This stressful state can cause the child to develop symptoms such as:
- Inability or unwillingness to recall trauma details
- Difficulty stopping thoughts about the trauma
- Emotional and physical numbing
- Recalling physical sensations that occurred during trauma
- Difficulty staying still or fidgeting
- Sleeping routine is disturbed
- Rapid changes in mood
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low self esteem
- Inability to trust others
- Drug use
- Desire to hurt oneself or others
A large and growing body of research indicates that toxic stress during childhood can harm the most basic levels of the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. Changes to the brain from toxic stress can affect such things as attention, impulsive behavior, decision-making, learning, emotion, and response to stress. Children growing up under these conditions often struggle to learn and complete schooling. They are at increased risk of becoming involved in crime and violence, using alcohol or drugs, and engaging in early sexual activity, unprotected sex and suicide attempts. They are susceptible to disease, illness, and mental health challenges over their lifetime. Children growing up with toxic stress may have difficulty forming healthy and stable relationships. They may also have unstable work histories as adults and struggle with finances, family, jobs, and depression throughout life—the effects of which can be passed on to their own children.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an effective evidenced-based treatment for trauma. TF-CBT can help parents recognize and respond appropriately to their child’s trauma responses, while setting appropriate behavioral limits and rebuild trust and safety.
Professional Therapy with a Client Focus
There are times in life when we can feel off balance and can’t seem to snap out of it. When our own natural support system just isn’t enough, it may be time to reach out to a professional counselor to start the process of therapy. We have created a safe, comfortable and professional environment to discuss the issues in your life. We recognize the importance of a good therapeutic relationship and strive to build a positive rapport. We treat each client with respect and dignity.
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Life is full of stressful changes. Some stressful experiences can be good, such as the birth of a child, some bad, such as financial difficulties. In our everyday language we use the word trauma for many types of stressful experiences. However, traumatic experiences are unique because they specifically threaten us with serious physical injury or death. Common examples include car accidents, rape, assaults, war, fires or natural disasters. Often, traumas caused by people (e.g., violent crime) have additional psychological challenges as compared to natural disasters (e.g., floods or earthquakes). Individuals who witness such dangerous situations or their immediate aftermath may also experience traumatic reactions.
Trauma reactions commonly last for several weeks or months before people start to feel normal again. The majority of individuals report that they feel better within the first three months. On-going exposure to a threatening experience may produce more prolonged stress because of the continual reminders that the threat of danger is not over.
Life-threatening situations will produce a variety of intense and unusual stress reactions in our emotions, thoughts and actions. The most common symptoms of trauma fall into three broad areas: re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal. Other emotions such as guilt, anger, and depression can also commonly occur following a trauma.
Re-experiencing: repetitive, vivid, and intrusive thoughts, images, memories, and sensations about the trauma and its consequences are hallmark symptoms and can create tremendous anxiety. Traumatic images or thoughts may intrude during the day as “flashbacks” or during sleep as nightmares. Other typical thoughts may include: believing you are in danger; believing that you should foresee and control these dangers; believing that you should have somehow been able to do more to stop the event from happening, and that your personality and future are permanently damaged.
Hyperarousal: difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, being hypervigilant, a general inability to unwind and becoming easily startled are common physical symptoms of anxiety that may occur following a trauma. Panic attacks, racing heart and appetite disturbances are also common.
Avoidance: not wanting to be around reminders of the trauma. This may include avoiding some of the people, places and things that remind you of the event or were present at the time, but it can also include avoiding certain conversations, thoughts and feelings. Emotional numbing and a diminished ability to experience pleasure are typical. Some people may forget important aspects of the trauma, report being unable to have loving feelings toward others and may have less interest in carrying on with their daily lives. People may withdraw socially, begin to feel alienated and mistrustful of others and report an increase in conflicts with others. Avoidance can also take the form of strange, almost dream-like, experiences called depersonalization and derealization. You might feel unreal or disconnected from your surroundings, nearby people or your own body. Alcohol and/or other substances are another method often used to avoid traumatic feelings and memories through “self-medicating.”
When symptoms are severe enough during the first month to impair social or occupational functioning, Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) may be diagnosed. If these more immediate and disruptive patterns last beyond one month, the syndrome is called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Approximately half of those who have post-traumatic symptoms will recover within 3 months. The likelihood that you will continue to experience these symptoms beyond three months depends upon a variety of factors. For example, direct exposure to the traumatic event, the seriousness of the threat to life, amount of times trauma was experienced, a history of past trauma, psychological difficulties prior to trauma are all factors that may increase the likelihood that your symptoms will not go away on their own with time.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy are evidenced-based treatments for trauma. These treatments generally aim to help people see themselves and their worlds more adaptively by modifying the distorted or unhelpful ways of thinking that have been linked to problems in emotion. The therapist helps the client view the trauma and their reactions to it in ways that are more helpful and balanced. Therapy also helps to create new relaxation behaviors and encourage a sense of empowerment, self-worth, and strength.
Why choose a therapist at Abalance Client-Centered Counseling?
Our office is dedicated to providing the best mental health services to ALL people in our community regardless of income.
We have a team of professionals that are continually sharpening their skills as mental health providers and attend regular training from the Clinical Director. Having a competent and knowledgeable therapist is only part of it.
We are also a group of caring and compassionate people that strive to make your time with us a safe, comfortable and rewarding experience.
- Anxiety Disorders
- Depression Disorders
- Grief And Loss Issues
- Child Disruptive Behavior
- Childhood Trauma
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. ABALANCE CLIENT-CENTERED COUNSELING is accepting new clients age 12 and older. We are only offering Teletherapy Sessions to people in the Central Valley.
No. You can contact us directly and we will get your insurance eligibility established and schedule your first appointment. Your Health Plan may require an additional call to get a registration number after you have already established as a client in our office. We have a team here to help guide you through these things if you need assistance.
Yes, we currently accept HPSJ and CCAH MediCal Insurances only. For other insurances, we provide an out-of-network option for you to bill your insurance and get reimbursed for up to 80% of your therapy costs in our offices.
No, we treat mild/moderate symptoms for a variety of issues, but not alcohol and drug issues. If you have an addiction or are seeking sobriety, we refer out to a professional that treats substance abuse.
Weekly sessions are the best care option for mental health outcomes, but we also provide an every other week option, or Teletherapy if you have a hectic schedule.
The Best Thing In Play Therapy
We have advanced training in play therapy and utilize several treatment options to best fit the needs of our youngest clients. We have specially designed Play Therapy Rooms at each office, dedicated to enriching the therapy experience and reaching our goals.
why choose us
We have over 15 years of clinical experience to provide the most effective treatment options. Our team of therapists have specialized training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
We recognize the importance of a good therapeutic relationship and strive to build a positive rapport with each client. And we treat each client with respect and dignity.
You will learn skills of mindfulness and how to balance thoughts and feelings; and begin to build insight into your issues and have a plan to reinforce your goals.
Teletherapy is provided by using long-distance technologies so that clients and therapists do not have to be in the same place at the same time.
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