Anxiety and depression can be symptoms of deeper early life wounds, and therefore signs of developmental trauma or complex post traumatic stress disorder.
What is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Developmental Trauma?
Developmental trauma is a wound that happens during the development of your identity. It is an injury to the neurological, psychological, and spiritual parts of you.
When left unhealed, developmental trauma comes up as symptoms of depression, anxiety, feelings of meaninglessness, emptiness, fear, anger, or fatigue. This is because the wounds distort you true identity, and cause you to see, feel, and act in a way that is against your true nature.
To heal developmental trauma is to restore the real you.
The False Self
The false self is the personality that you created to protect yourself from psychological and physical harm. It is a survival personality, shaped through developmental traumas, It is not who you really are – it’s who you had to be.
CPTSD or Developmental Trauma affects how we feel, think, and act. CPTSD is a term that is used to describe the personality and neurological adaptations we undergo when living under chronic emotional stress as a result of feeling unsafe.
When we fear for our well being, the physiology naturally activates the fight or flight response.
In healthy environments where we felt safe and loved by our parents when our fight or flight response is triggered we can shake it off and find a sense of security once more.
When our environment is unsafe (and if you felt unsafe, that is because it was unsafe for you), we will grow up with a chronic sense of insecurity and often lose the sense of positive connection with ourselves and with other people.
We each respond to chronic emotional stress uniquely and show it differently, however the common theme is that chronic emotional stress can lead to a distorted sense of who you are – causing you to feel unhappy, fearful, low, and/or angry most of the time.
Do I need Trauma Treatment?
You may be having some of the following experiences to go along with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
There may indicate that trauma therapy for cptsd or developmental trauma could help you feel happy, self-loving, and wholesome.
- Feelings of emptiness, self-doubt, anger, and fear
- Difficulties staying emotionally balanced
- Challenged, flat, limited, or volatile interpersonal relationships
- Low self-esteem
- Resistance to feeling emotion or feeling out of control of emotion
- Perfectionism or rebellion
- Negative thoughts and feelings about self and/or others
- Prefer to rely on self and sometimes distrust others
- Feel dependent on others where self-confidence suffers
- Difficult to receive (love, support, compliments for example)
- Having a hard time getting life organised, feeling left behind, incomplete, or unaccomplished.
Emotional Safety is the Key to Trauma Treatment
Very often, someone will come into my office explaining that they have social anxiety, incureable depression, an overwhelming sense of emptiness, or the deep feeling something is wrong with them but they cannot pinpoint exactly what that is.
Developmental Trauma is sometimes tricky to self-detect, because of the nature of how developmental trauma is created. CPTSD is the result of a natural personality, transformed gradually through the process of living in an emotionally toxic environment, very often as children.
The way that we think, feel, and act is altered in order to deal with an emotionally toxic environment. At the time, we are not aware that our environment is emotionally toxic because it is just the way we know things to be.
However over time we start to notice that we feel invisible, unsafe, hostile, powerless, detached, numb, reactive, distrustful, flat…for example. We later internalise the emotionally toxic environment.
Meaning, whatever chaos or absence we were met with as children, becomes what we carry around and how we feel as adults. When caregivers are unpredictable, unreliable, dismissive, critical, aggressive, fearful this can put a toxic emotional strain on a child.
Whether the behaviour is directed towards the child, or experienced by the child in the home CPTSD is still possible. What matters is the child’s sense of safety and belonging.
Later in life, we may start to notice that we experience certain specific challenges, which can indicate that trauma treatment for cptsd would be of great benefit.
What Kind of Childhood Experiences Can Lead to CPTSD or Developmental Trauma?
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) or Developmental Trauma (DT) is an often misunderstood form of trauma. We expect that only so called big events cause traumas. The key here is to understand that there is no objective ‘big event’ that results in trauma.
What makes an experience traumatic is the threshold of the person experiencing the event, and the positive resources they had available to them at the time of the event. A single event can result in trauma, or multiple events over time that are never emotionally resolved.
Incomplete trauma accumulates. Children often have less perspective, more dependence and therefore increased vulnerability to experiencing an event that is traumatic for them.
We often expect children to manage emotions and experiences with the same resilience, self-regulation, and understanding as adults do. When we look back on our childhood experiences, we may have a disconnect between our adult perspective, and the experience that we had as a children.
Healing Emotional Neglect in Trauma Therapy
One of the most common themes I encounter in my work as a trauma therapist is denial of negative emotions. We believe that we should not be feeling what we are feeling, and so we make ourselves wrong for it. This traps the emotion and traumatic stress in the body and also adds shame.
This is almost always a repetition of how this person was treated as a child for feeling a certain way about a certain experience, and when this happens ongoingly it is enough to distort a person’s inner life into symptoms of anxiety and depression for which trauma treatment is very effective in resolving.
Emotional neglect is often one of the hardest wounds to self-detect. This is because as children, we need our parents to validate and reflect back to us our emotional experiences.
When this does not happen, a child is apt to self-blame and develops feelings of emptiness and unworthiness. This child grows into an adult who is not able to access their emotional needs, because they were never nurtured in the first place and so they become a blindspot.
Methods for Trauma Treatment
My approach is compassionate, honest, and totally present. My goal is to help you to complete the unresolved trauma cycles, heal emotional wounds, and access your natural ways of being that get you feeling, thinking, and getting you want.
We talk about the story of your experiences, your life, and work through them to heal. Below are some examples of some of the techniques that you might experiences while in trauma therapy with me.
Inner Child Work for Trauma Treatment
When we experience a trauma as a child, that childhood experience remains incomplete within us. The body and the subconscious mind continue to be aware of the unresolved event.
Inner child work allows us to safely return to wounding experience within the subconscious, and resolve it for the child. This gives a sense of resolution and ease in the body, and can often change the way that we think and feel in daily life.
Mindfulness Meditation for Trauma Treatment
The basis of mindfulness is to be aware of experience without judgement of the experience. This principle and method is applied to address valid emotional experiences and provide grounding.
It is a form of radical self-acceptance, and helps us to internally nurture the loving presence within us that is lacking as a result of painful emotional experiences. Mindfulness is analogous to unconditional love, because in a state of mindfulness we do not try to change who we think we are or what we feel.
One of the key elements of mindfulness is disidentification. When we experience inner conflict, one part of our consciousness is in disagreement with another. This creates an inner battle that can keep you tense and stuck. Mindfulness is one way to heal this split and so feel more whole.
Somatic Experiencing for Trauma Treatment
Trauma therapy helps you to reconnect with your body in a safe way. We can detach from or disown the physical experience due to traumatic events, self- rejection, fear of the present, and fear of the past.
The energy of survival instincts is still trapped in the body, along with the emotional experiences of the traumatic experiences.
Somatic experiencing for trama treatment helps you to process and discharge these energies so that you can complete trauma cycles (unhealed traumatic events).
Our body is the ‘technology’ that makes us aware of emotional experience. Through the sensation that we feel in the body, we know what kind of emotion we are experiencing. The act of unconditional presence with an emotional experience can be very healing. Somatic experiencing also allows us to access and discharge the physical stress (instincts) of a past experience that was threatening and overwhelming.
Healing From Developmental and Complex Trauma
The healing process is unique to each of us. On the fundamental level, all human beings want to love and to be loved. The steps we take and the lessons we learn to get to this space are very individual.
When you start to heal from complex trauma, you can expect to start feeling lighter. Certain emotional states and ways of thinking will evaporate. You will begin to feel more centered, happy, and capable.
These are signs that you are accessing your true nature, and getting on track to live the life you want.
In person sessions and video counselling for Trauma Treatment is available.
Rachel is a psychotherapist, soul path coach, and energy healer practising in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and by video counselling online. Formally trained in Social Work (BSW, MSW) specialised in Mental Health, and Psychology (BA), Rachel integrates spiritual awareness into psychotherapy and inner work. This enables her to practice in tune with your needs, and provide healing facilitation on deeper levels.