Tackle Trauma with Online Therapy: Healing from Childhood Wounds
If you're reading this article, you may have experienced trauma as a child, and you may be managing the effects of that trauma. This article will give an overview of childhood trauma, its effects, and what can be done about it. While this article is intended to be a brief overview, it will still mention topics that can be upsetting to those who have experienced similar circumstances.
If the consequences of your traumatic experience have become too overwhelming, or if you feel a significant burden from your trauma, there are solutions. Tackling trauma is best done with the help of a licensed counselor or therapist, and trauma-focused therapies are available that can help you recover from traumatic exposure as a child.
What is Childhood Trauma?
Traumatic events in childhood can have lasting consequences well into adulthood. Traumatic events produce a real and substantial impact that can change how the brain develops and matures. The effects can vary drastically depending on the length and severity of the traumatic exposure, as well as other factors.
What Makes an Event Traumatic?
No matter if a traumatic event occurs during adulthood or childhood, the impact will be different for everybody. There is not a single set of criteria that determines whether a person will be traumatized by the circumstances of their childhood. Still, there are a few generalities that hold. For example, most people who are abused or neglected throughout childhood experience challenges related to their trauma later in life.
Other events, such as a car accident, the sudden loss of a parent, or a national disaster, can all result in trauma. The event, or events, can be prolonged, such as in the case of child abuse or nearly instant, like in a car accident. Generally, there are three things to consider when determining the impact of a potentially traumatic event on a child.
What Came Before? A child's previous experiences may contribute to their perception of a traumatic event, and they may have biological vulnerabilities to trauma, which are still poorly understood.
What Happened During? The factors of the traumatic event itself can vary widely. Proximity, both emotional and physical, can predict the severity of a traumatic event. For example, a child who experiences a violent car accident is physically close to the trauma, whereas a child experiencing severe neglect is emotionally close.
What Happened After? A child with a strong support network and adults willing to guide them through processing the traumatic event are significantly less likely to experience long-lasting negative impacts. Children who are left on their own or not provided with an opportunity to heal from the traumatic event healthily are much more likely to experience trauma burdens in adulthood.
It is impossible to determine the impact of a traumatic event by considering just the event itself. In some cases, long-lasting trauma impacts can be reasonably expected, like in the case of a child who experienced physical abuse regularly throughout their childhood. However, in some cases, an event that would seem likely to induce adverse effects later in life, like the loss of a parent, can be almost entirely mitigated by adequately supporting the child after they experienced the traumatic event.
Adverse Childhood Experiences
An Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) is a difficult or burdensome experience faced by a child. The original ACE study, first published in 1995, defined three domains of ACEs: household dysfunction, abuse, and neglect.
ACEs in the household dysfunction domain include severe mental illness, an incarcerated relative, violence between family members, substance abuse, and divorce. The household dysfunction domain focuses on what is happening around the child, not necessarily what happens to the child. Abuse and neglect, on the other hand, directly relate to the impact on the child.
Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Neglect can be physical or emotional. In the case of abuse, a child is approached in an unsafe manner by an adult or older child. In neglect, the child is denied basic physical needs, like food or water, and emotional needs, like love, safety, and support.
ACEs are commonly discussed with referring to childhood trauma. Research has repeatedly demonstrated the link between ACEs and adverse outcomes in adulthood. The higher the number of ACEs experienced by a child, the more likely they are to experience future victimization, substance abuse, delayed brain development, low educational attainment, and limited employment opportunities.
If you're interested in learning more about your own ACEs and how they may have impacted you, click the link to take the adverse childhood experience quiz from ACEs Too High.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD, described simply, is a delayed or impaired recovery from exposure to a traumatic event. ACEs can induce post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but PTSD can also be caused by numerous other events that are not considered ACEs in the traditional sense.
A child experiencing traumatic stress is likely to experience learning problems and increased behavioral problems. They are also at a higher risk for long-term health problems, like diabetes and substance use disorders. For single events, such as a violent car accident, PTSD can be entirely avoided with proper care and support following the event. However, if a child does not have adequate support, the effect can be almost immediate.
A child who experiences a traumatic event may not meet the criteria for PTSD. However, there can still be long-lasting negative impacts if the child does not receive adequate help and support. Children with many ACEs before experiencing a separate traumatic event are significantly more likely to have difficulty recovering from the trauma.
If a child does meet the criteria for PTSD, and it is left untreated, the effects can continue until adulthood. By the time a child reaches the point where they can be diagnosed with a traumatic stress disorder, they must be demonstrating symptoms suggesting an overwhelming trauma burden. That trauma burden is unlikely to resolve independently without help from a support network and, in many cases, therapy.
Healing from Childhood Trauma
Whether you've been aware of the impact of childhood trauma for a while or are just coming to terms with it, help is available. Trauma can be difficult to overcome by yourself, and experts recommend visiting with a licensed, trauma-informed therapist. A trauma-informed therapist is a mental health professional specifically trained in the impacts of trauma throughout the lifespan; they have methods and approaches that are known to be effective with individuals experiencing trauma.
Therapy led with the goal of addressing trauma, or trauma-focused therapy, is known to be highly effective. One study found that nearly 80 percent of those who visit a therapist to manage trauma-related concerns see a significant reduction in their symptoms.
Therapists use a variety of methods to address trauma. Here are a few of the most common:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By adjusting one domain, positive results can be achieved in another. For example, a therapist may teach you how to address unhealthy behaviors associated with your trauma and improve negative thinking patterns. In turn, this helps your feelings become more positive.
Cognitive Processing Therapy
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is similar to CBT described above but focuses entirely on trauma-related beliefs. During a course of CPT, the therapist will help you understand and conceptualize the traumatic event in a new, less harmful way.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET) is a therapeutic method for slowly and gradually approaching trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations. By slowly facing the source of trauma's negative impacts, you can re-learn that specific memories and cues are not dangerous or harmful.
How Can Online Therapy Help?
Processing trauma, especially trauma that you've carried since childhood, is often much easier and quicker with the help of a licensed therapist. Online therapy can remove barriers and make therapy easier to access, such as removing the need to travel to a physical office or choosing only therapists who practice nearby. The methods used by online therapists are the same evidence-based treatments that a therapist would use in an office setting. Even when administered online, these techniques are just as effective as if they were used in an office.
“Even when I had no idea what kind of counselor to pick, I was matched with a beyond certified and compassionate woman who was a GREAT listener. I really connected with her and she will be in my contacts forever. Andrea has been flexible with her scheduling even in the chaos that was my life. I’m so appreciative of her abilities to help me. She helped me learn to love myself through a divorce, childhood trauma, and overcome my fears for the future.”
“Joiet understands that I come from a very toxic childhood and I thank her sincerely for pushing me along the way to become a better person and stop the cycle.”
Trauma does not mean the same thing to every person. Determining what makes an event traumatic depends on multiple factors, not just the event itself. In children, the best protective factor is a strong support network that allows the child to process a traumatic event healthily. If the child is constantly exposed to traumatic circumstances, such as in chronic abuse and neglect, they are more likely to grow up experiencing negative mental and physical health impacts from their trauma. However, even in adulthood, trauma-focused therapy is an effective way to relieve the burden of childhood trauma.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
What are the long-term effects of childhood trauma?
Trauma can have a significant impact on the brain and the body. When you are a survivor of traumatic stress, it can take a toll on you. Children trust their caregivers, and that’s why childhood abuse is so tragic; you don’t know who you can trust after it’s violated. A child who experiences a traumatic event can recover. However, before that recovery takes place, the trauma will often haunt the individual, possibly for years, potentially replaying over and over in their minds as a lived experience in the present. Alternatively, a child may develop triggers that precipitate a traumatic response, seemingly out of nowhere. These responses may negatively impact one’s quality of life or ability to engage safely with others, and that’s when it is especially important to seek out help. The long term effects of childhood trauma, if left unchecked, can be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. In some cases, childhood trauma that is not addressed leads to developing unhealthy habits or addictions, which may have disastrous consequences and can be difficult, in their own right, to overcome. It’s essential to work through traumatic stress in therapy sooner rather than later.
What are the three types of trauma?
The three types of trauma are acute trauma, chronic trauma, and complex trauma. Acute trauma stems from one incident. Chronic trauma is like complex PTSD, resulting from prolonged exposure to domestic violence or ritualistic abuse. Complex trauma is exposure to many different tragic events, whether they are natural disasters or interpersonal. Whatever type of trauma you may experience, traumatic stress has a significant impact on the mind and the body. These different trauma categories do not compete with one another. You could have one traumatic event that is hugely impactful and makes you feel triggered, or you could have a complex trauma that makes it difficult for you to form relationships or exist in the world. All trauma is valid.
What triggers childhood trauma?
Children who are survivors of childhood abuse have experienced trauma. Child abuse is horrific, and unfortunately, it cannot always be prevented. But if you know that a child is being abused, you must speak up and say something. A child’s life is integrally affected by childhood abuse, and the traumatic stress that the child experiences can be staggering. The biological effects of childhood abuse stay with that young person, potentially for the rest of their life. Adverse childhood experiences can cause the child to experience traumatic stress. A child must get the therapy that they need; if that doesn’t happen, extreme post-traumatic stress disorder may be in their future. A person can develop complications from abuse, and you must try to be diligent in preventing your child from experiencing abuse whenever possible. Having those difficult conversations with your children is vital. Talk to your children about the differences between good touch and bad touch, teach them ways to advocate for themselves, and help them identify people they can reach out to should they feel violated, threatened, or unsafe. Outline what is and isn’t appropriate for adults to do and not do. Childhood trauma is triggered by the lived memory of a traumatic event. The potential exists to cope with or heal from traumatic triggers, but there can also be psychosocial effects resulting from childhood trauma.
How does childhood trauma affect behavior?
A person who experiences a traumatic event as a child may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Depending on a child’s age, they may remember or not recall events clearly; they may have disassociated from the trauma, which can be challenging when establishing a therapeutic treatment plan. A child who is experiencing childhood abuse may act out in violent ways. They may also become very sad and tearful, or they may not be present with emotional affect. Their behavior could be impacted in a variety of ways, which is why it is essential to know how your child expresses emotions.
Do you ever get over childhood trauma?
Childhood trauma can cause traumatic stress to a young person, and it is possible to work through traumatic events. However, you never necessarily “get over it.” Childhood trauma is something that you learn to accept, and hopefully, you realize that it wasn’t your fault as an adult. Let’s say that a child has been exposed to trauma, and they internalize it. That can be detrimental to their mental and physical well being, and that’s why they need to work through it at the moment, assuming that you realize that it is happening to your child. In some cases, however, working through childhood abuse becomes a lifelong journey.
Can you have PTSD from childhood?
A person can have PTSD at any age, and it is especially important to remember that traumatic stress can happen to anyone. You can have PTSD from childhood if you experience trauma as a young person. Anybody of any age can have PTSD, and seeking treatment is likewise crucial at any age. Symptoms of PTSD include but aren’t limited to flashbacks to traumatic memories, hypervigilance, anxiety, trouble sleeping, nightmares, irritability, isolation from others, low mood or depressive symptoms, and avoiding anything that reminds a person of a traumatic experience. A psychiatrist can screen you for and diagnose you with PTSD if you believe that you may have it.
How do you know if a child is traumatized?
There are various ways to tell if a child has experienced traumatic events. It comes down to observing their behavior. Many different things can be considered traumatic. Children and their families need to be mindful of trauma and its effects. When observing behavior, signs that a child has been traumatized may include sounds that make them so fearful that they jump or tremble, such as loud noises. Take note if the child is afraid to be around a particular adult, peer, or even a child not much older than themselves because it might be an indicator that they’ve experienced abuse by that individual, whether the abuse was physical, sexual, or mental. Observing your child’s behavior is essential in recognizing whether they are traumatized. Extreme emotional outbursts could also be a symptom of trauma. Therapy for children can provide a safe space for children and families to express their feelings and fears and to uncover hidden traumas.
How do you know if you’re traumatized?
Adults can similarly express feelings to that of a child who presents as having been traumatized. You may have post-traumatic stress syndrome or traumatic stress if you have nightmares or panic attacks. It could be that you are afraid to go to certain places or be around particular people. Sometimes a sound or a smell or a taste can trigger a traumatic response. Trauma can affect people in many different ways. Being traumatized can impact your daily functioning or how you are interacting with the world. It’s essential to get help for your trauma if you feel or discover that you are traumatized.
How do I know if I have past trauma?
One of the best ways to find out if you have past trauma is by talking to a licensed therapist. A therapeutic setting provides a safe space for you to explore and delve into your emotional history and discover if you’ve had or have traumatic stress. Talking about your experiences as a child can be life-changing, and confronting traumatic events can help you to cope with them. The only way to know whether you have past trauma is if you confront your past experiences.
How do I deal with an emotional shutdown child?
Experiencing trauma, whether that’s trauma in childhood or adulthood, can cause someone to shut down emotionally. One of the things you can do if you have a child that is shutting down is give them space to experience their emotions. Let them know that you’re there if they need to talk and remember that a child that has traumatic stress may react differently. They may need to process their feelings, and creating opportunities and a safe space to process is critical. Older children may shut down more than younger ones because they are perhaps fearful of trusting adults. The most important thing is to give the child the space to have feelings.
What are the four types of child neglect?
Child neglect is one of the types of childhood trauma a person can endure. The four types of child neglect are:
- Physical neglect, where the child is not provided with clothing, shelter, or food.
- Medical neglect, where the child is kept from receiving medical or mental treatment
- Educational neglect, where the child does not get proper schooling,
- Emotional neglect, where a child doesn’t get affection or psychological care.
Neglect is a heartbreaking and traumatizing experience. It often leads to emotional and psychological trauma.. If you or someone you know underwent any form of neglect as a child, finding a therapist that is a trauma specialist can help.
Can childhood trauma cause anger issues?
Children react to trauma in a variety of different ways, whether it’s psychological trauma or another form of trauma. Childhood trauma can absolutely cause children to become volatile or contribute to difficulty with anger management later in life. A person may be mad that they didn’t or feel they didn’t get the necessary care. The traumatic stress of child abuse can cause children to become irate or resentful of their caregivers. After ensuring that the child is safe, finding a therapist that works with children and is experienced in treating trauma is the best course of action to take for children that have experienced emotional and psychological trauma or other forms of trauma. We can’t always control our initial response to trauma, but we can control the care we put into our actions moving forward.
Is there an online therapist?
There are many psychologists, therapists, and professional counselors who offer online therapy. Other times, people work with online therapy companies such as ReGain or BetterHelp. There are a variety of benefits that come with getting counseling services through an online therapy company. One of them is that online therapy companies generally work to pair you with a provider through a survey or digital intake session that helps you find someone who best suits your needs. This can be easier than waiting weeks or months to get an intake appointment from a provider that practices face to face. Visiting websites like doctor on demand is another way to see an online therapist. Using doctor on demand, you can get help from a doctor or psychologist virtually. You can also get a free mental health assessment on the doctor on demand website. Like with BetterHelp and ReGain, doctor on demand offers online mental health services with licensed providers.
There are pros and cons to both in person therapy and online therapy. The type of therapy service that is better or preferable will vary from person to person. When you are looking for the best online therapy, it is vital to ensure that the mental health professionals you’re considering are licensed. If they aren’t licensed, you won’t receive the best online therapy. There are many forms of online emotional support, such as chat rooms, support groups, and even mental health apps. In addition to therapy, the best online support groups can be helpful, as can chat rooms. You will know if you’re in the best online groups or chat rooms based on how they make you feel and the emotional support you feel you’re getting from them. Be cognizant of if they’re helping or hurting. If you’re worried about if an online support group is benefiting you or holding you back, you can talk to a mental health professional who can help you gauge the effects that it’s having on you.
Does online therapy really work?
Online therapy really works. As online therapy has become more popular, research has emerged that proves the efficacy of online therapy. We know that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a popular form of therapy for depression anxiety and other mental health concerns, is just as effective as in-person therapy when administered online. Whether it’s issued face to face or online, cognitive behavioral therapy is a popular form of talk therapy because it’s effective and is often a short-term form of treatment. In cognitive behavioral therapy, you’ll learn skills such as thought reframe, mindfulness, techniques for coping with stress, and how to challenge cognitive distortions. If you’re interested in cognitive behavioral therapy, you can see an online therapist or a mental health professional who practices in person. It depends on what is most suitable for you, your needs, and your lifestyle. Make sure that you’re getting the best online therapy quality possible by ensuring that the mental health professional you see is a good fit for you. If you feel that the provider you’re seeing isn’t a good fit for you, you may switch providers. You will know if you’re seeing the best online therapist for you based on where you are in terms of meeting your goals and how productive you feel your online therapy sessions are.
Is there a free online therapist?
If you want to receive online therapy for free or for a low cost, check with your insurance provider to see what they cover. If you are low-income, you may be eligible for insurance that covers all or most of your therapy sessions from particular providers or counseling centers. Online counseling or online therapy is becoming more and more popular, and as a result, more licensed therapists and professional counselors are offering it or working with online therapy sites to host their services. There are many types of therapy to consider, and when you’re looking for a provider, it’s important to be aware of what you want. For example, if you’re looking for someone who understands eating disorders, you’ll want an eating disorder specialist. Most online therapists work with common issues such as depression anxiety and relationships, but some do have particular specialties that might make a difference in your care.
How do I find an online therapist?
The best way to find an online therapist is to go through an online therapy company. Websites like doctor on demand are another popular way to get remote care. You can also search for therapists that your insurance provider covers who offer online therapy or remote sessions. This can be done by contacting your insurance company directly, checking their website, or looking at an online directory.
There are many health care providers you might come across in online therapy or in person therapy. You might see a licensed clinical social worker, licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, or another provider. Often, you will see these tiles in their abbreviated forms. For example, a licensed clinical social worker is often called an LCSW. When you look at a mental health provider’s profile online on a directory or online therapy website, it’ll generally list if they’re a licensed clinical social worker, licensed professional counselor, and so on. Additionally, it’ll often include a biography that tells you a little bit about them. This is highly beneficial because it gives you an idea as to who you’ll be seeing. The best online or in person mental health professional for you will depend on a variety of factors, including the form of therapy you’re looking for and what you want to address in therapy.
Is there any free psychologist?
There are a number of ways that you can find mental health services for free. First, if your insurance company covers therapy in full, you can receive therapy without paying anything. You may also be able to get free mental health services from a religious institution or an educational institution. Note that some providers are willing to operate on a sliding scale rate. If you feel like you can’t afford therapy, that’s one thing to consider. Another option to think about is online therapy. Online therapy is typically cheaper than traditional in person therapy or counseling. Although it is not free, the best online therapy sites have licensed mental health professionals, which is absolutely critical when it comes to getting my mental health services you need. There are free hotlines to contact for someone to talk to immediately when you’re in need of emotional support, but they are run by volunteers rather than licensed mental health professionals and aren’t a substitute for seeing a psychologist or therapist. When it comes to therapy, you want someone who is knowledgeable about common issues like relationships, family issues, and depression anxiety or other mental health conditions and who has the professional skills and experience to help you with those concerns.
What is the cheapest online therapy?
Most online therapy options offer a variety of plans that range in terms of price. The cheapest online therapy plans are generally the ones that bill less frequently and have a lower total rate per session or that provide plans with fewer services included. The lowest weekly price you can get from an online therapy company is around $60. Companies such as BetterHelp start their plans at $65 per week, billed on a monthly basis or less frequently. When you work with a licensed mental health professional in online therapy, you can pick the modality you’d like to use to communicate with them. Some people prefer video chat or video conferencing, whereas others prefer phone sessions or text messaging therapy. Often, people communicate with their provider using a combination of these methods.
For those used to face to face or in person therapy, video chat or video conferencing is frequently the most preferable form of online therapy because it is a live video session. In a live video session, you talk with a licensed therapist in real time and get to see their facial expressions and gestures just as you would face to face. A benefit of online therapy is that, in addition to live video or phone sessions, you can pick a plan that includes messaging therapy that you can utilize at any time.
Is online therapy cheaper than in person?
Online therapy is generally far cheaper than in person therapy. Often, your insurance company will cover a certain number of mental health services and a certain number of therapy sessions with professional counselors or therapists. With insurance, your co-pay will vary depending on the insurance company you have and your income level. If you’re wondering, “what does my insurance cover?” The best thing to do is to contact your insurance company and see what they offer. The best online therapy price you will find, as stated above, is around $60 per week. Services like doctor on demand are more pricey; on the doctor on demand website, it states that a mental health consultation that lasts 25 minutes is $129 and a 50-minute consultation is $179. In addition to seeing a professional counselor or therapist, you can choose to see a psychiatrist online or in person if needed.
Can I talk to a psychologist online for free?
It would be very difficult to find a licensed therapist or psychologist to talk to you online for free unless your insurance company covers therapy in full and your psychologist offers remote sessions. Sometimes, online counseling or therapy is less than half the price of face-to-face counseling. Online therapy and in person counseling both have their pros and cons, but one thing’s for sure; everyone deserves quality mental health care. Make yourself a priority and explore your options so that you can find the best online or in person therapy option for you.
- Previous Article
- Next Article