Addressing Childhood Trauma as an Adult

One of the most frustrating societal expectations is the idea that as adults, we should just “get over” things that happened to us in the past– that whatever happened, it was so long ago that the mature thing to do is move past it and forget.

And that expectation isn’t fair for anybody. Of course the trauma that impacted your childhood are going to impact you as an adult! Childhood isn’t some destination you leave behind once you’re an adult; it’s your history. It’s where your personality was formed, and it’s where your roots are. You shouldn’t feel pressured to just forget what happened; instead, you should be supported as you process and deal with childhood trauma in your own way, in your own time.

What Is Childhood Trauma?

Childhood trauma refers to a wide range of experiences that occur during childhood and have lasting adverse effects on physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. These experiences can include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, loss of a loved one, exposure to violence, or growing up in an environment characterized by chronic stress and instability.

These early adversities can have profound and lasting effects on our physical, emotional, and psychological well-being, shaping our beliefs, behaviors, and relationships throughout our lives. Unresolved childhood trauma can manifest in various ways, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, relationship difficulties, and even physical health problems.

Impact on Adult Well-Being

Childhood trauma can have profound and lasting effects on adults, influencing various aspects of your life.

Physical Health

Adults who have experienced childhood trauma are at higher risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. This is often attributed to the long-term effects of stress on the body, which can weaken the immune system and disrupt physiological processes.

Mental Health

Childhood trauma is strongly associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. These disorders can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, relationships, and ability to function in daily life.

Emotional Well-Being

Adults who have experienced childhood trauma may struggle with emotional regulation, experiencing intense and overwhelming emotions such as anger, fear, shame, and sadness. They may also have difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships, trusting others, and feeling a sense of belonging and connection.

Cognitive Functioning

Childhood trauma can affect cognitive functioning, including memory, attention, and executive functioning skills such as problem-solving and decision-making. This can lead to in difficulties with concentration, learning, and academic or occupational performance.

Interpersonal Relationships 

Childhood trauma can profoundly impact interpersonal relationships, influencing how individuals relate to others and form attachments. Adults who have experienced trauma may struggle with intimacy, trust, and communication in relationships, leading to patterns of conflict, isolation, and relational difficulties.


Childhood trauma can shape your self-concept and self-esteem, influencing how you perceive yourselves and your worthiness. Adults who have experienced trauma may struggle with feelings of shame, self-blame, and worthlessness, leading to low self-esteem and a distorted self-image.

Complexity of Trauma Responses

It’s essential to recognize that people respond to childhood trauma in diverse and complex ways. Some people may develop symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression, while others may exhibit resilience and adaptive coping strategies despite their adverse experiences.

Additionally, trauma responses can be influenced by various factors, including the nature and severity of the trauma, your support system, cultural and societal factors, and the presence of other protective or risk factors.

Addressing Childhood Trauma as an Adult

While the impact of childhood trauma on adult well-being can be intense, it’s important to remember that healing and recovery are possible. With appropriate support, resources, and interventions, you can learn to cope with the effects of trauma, rebuild their lives, and cultivate resilience. You don’t have to forget what happened, but you do deserve to heal.

The first step in addressing childhood trauma as an adult is acknowledging and validating your experience. It’s crucial to recognize that your feelings and reactions are valid and that you are not alone in your struggles. By acknowledging your experience, you can begin to break the silence and stigma surrounding childhood trauma and take the first step towards healing.

It’s also very important to have a strong support network. Trusted friends, family members, partners, or support groups are invaluable in navigating childhood trauma as an adult. Connecting with others who have experienced similar challenges can provide empathy, understanding, and validation. Support groups offer a safe space to share your experiences, learn from others, and receive support and encouragement on your healing journey. Another source of support is a mental health professional. Therapy is a valuable tool for addressing childhood trauma as an adult.

A skilled therapist can provide a safe and nonjudgmental space to explore your experiences, process difficult emotions, and develop coping strategies. Various therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and trauma-informed therapy, can be effective in addressing childhood trauma and promoting healing.

In addition to therapy, there are other healing modalities that can support you in addressing childhood trauma as an adult. Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can help you connect with your body and emotions, reduce stress, and promote emotional regulation. Creative expression through art, music, writing, or dance can also be therapeutic and provide an outlet for processing emotions and experiences.

Self-care is also important for addressing and healing from childhood trauma. Engaging in self-care practices such as mindfulness, meditation, movement, and spending time in nature can promote emotional regulation, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. Self-care goes hand-in-hand with self-compassion. Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness, understanding, and acceptance, especially when we’re struggling with difficult emotions or setbacks. Practicing self-compassion involves acknowledging our pain without judgment, recognizing that suffering is a universal human experience, and offering ourselves the same kindness and support that we would offer to a friend in need.

By giving yourself the compassion and care you need, you can develop a healthy sense of self and cultivate resilience. Cultivating resilience involves developing adaptive coping strategies, fostering a sense of purpose and meaning, and cultivating a supportive network of relationships. It’s about recognizing one’s strengths and resources and harnessing them to navigate challenges and promote growth and well-being.

Acknowledging and addressing childhood trauma as an adult is a courageous and empowering step towards healing. It requires us to confront painful memories, challenge ingrained beliefs about ourselves and the world, and cultivate new skills and care for ourselves along the way. It can feel very difficult to overcome, but you can do it. That’s what we’re here to help with. At Love Heal Grow, all of our therapists are trauma-informed and here to support you as you address childhood trauma as an adult. We’re here to help you subvert unfair pressures, whether those are from society, people in your life, or even yourself. We want to help you nurture your inner child, and we want to support you on your journey towards healing– whatever that path looks like for you. Schedule with one of our trauma-informed therapists today and let’s work on your path to healing together!


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