In the past 3-4 years of my practice as an expat psychologist, I've been facing more and more cases of a childhood trauma. From my experience I've found that the reason behind is that people having a traumatic experience in their childhood have a very strong belief that once they leave their abuser, particularly moving to another country, their lives would become better immediately. However, this doesn't work. You might feel safe in another country, but your trauma still affects your behavior. So, the earlier you start asking yourself a question "Shall I look for a childhood therapist near me?" – the better the healing process will work for you.
Symptoms of a childhood trauma in adulthood
When a child feels intensely threatened by an event they are involved in or witnesses, we call this a trauma. There is a range of trauma types to which children and adolescents can be exposed. They include bulling, community violence, physical and sexual abuse, complex trauma, traumatic grief, intimate partner violence, etc.
It's very important to know that our human instinct is to protect our personality from any traumatic memories, so people tend to deny that fact that we've been hurt, which leads to dissociation from the painful event, or even the repression of the memory of trauma.
However, an unresolved childhood trauma has a significant impact on an adult's quality of life. This negative impact can be felt across different areas including physical and mental health, professional and personal relationships. For instance, survivors of childhood abuse can experience feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, worry, grief, sadness, and anger. According to different studies, childhood trauma survivors have higher rates of depression, suicide, and self-harm.
However, from my experience as an expat psychologist, I see that most of my clients, suffering from a childhood trauma, have problems with setting up personal boundaries and creating healthy personal and professional relationships. These cases are typical for people living abroad, in another cultures – the impact of their trauma becomes double.
I work with childhood trauma cases using techniques of Art Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
How Art Therapy Helps with Childhood Trauma
Why Art Therapy? That's what my clients always ask me on our first session. There's a common attitude that it only works for children, or that you probably need to be good at painting or any other kind of art.
When we're dealing with a childhood trauma, the first thing we face and try to overcome is shame and guilt. These two feelings are different, but so common for trauma survivors. And they both have a negative impact on a healing process, as they don't allow a person to express their feelings and discuss their traumatic experience.
And Art Therapy seems to be the best solution. Through art, you can process your trauma in a "non-threatening," safe space, applying words to your creation or art object once you're ready.
There's another reason why Art Therapy works so well with trauma. Some studies have found that our traumatic memories are stored in the right hemisphere of our brain, and the speech is located in the left one. As an art is a right-brained activity, it's much easier for trauma survivors to "draw about" their experience than to speak about it.
It's very important to mention, however, that art therapy is usually supplemental to traditional talk therapy (I use CBT), but I find it an effective intervention for mental diagnoses.
So, again, asking yourself "Is there a childhood trauma therapist near me?" might become the first step of the healing process.