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Childhood Trauma

Dr. Shane

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Psychotherapy is known for digging into one's past to figure out what is wrong with that person.  In contrast, Brief, focus-solution therapy focuses almost entirely on the present to the point of almost ignoring the past.  Both forms of counseling have shown to be effective.  Negative events tend to hang out in our memories and shape our behavior more than pleasant events.  For that reason, many people seeking therapy find comfort in some form of psychotherapy and analysis even though trained therapists know it is not always needed.

It is difficult to define what trauma is because individuals are different.  What is traumatizing for one person is not for another.  Research has taught us that more importantly than what happens to us is what we perceive.  I may have had a much more traumatic childhood than my children did but if I framed it differently, it may have damaged me much less than what little trauma they experienced damaged them.  That is where psychotherapy provides a benefit for many people.  While we cannot get into Doc Brown's time machine and travel back in time and change it, we can change how we frame it today. 

A child may have been abused by their parents and thus, as a child, they adopted the coping mechanism of not trusting anyone and being totally self-reliant.   Her problems are not really caused by the abuse inflicted upon her by her parents.  Her problems stem from the fact that twenty years later, she is no longer in a situation where she cannot trust people.  Yet, she continues to use the coping mechanisms from her childhood which instead of protecting her (as they once did) now cause her harm.  So, the very thing she used to protect her as a child, is ruining her life as an adult.  The childhood trauma isn't the problem, the coping mechanisms are.  Psychotherapy would help her dig into her past and figure that out.  Brief, focus-solution therapy would identify the same defective coping mechanism without digging into the past.   

Childhood trauma is very common.  It effects different people differently.  Satan know that if he can mess up the childhood, that most will never recover from it.  I am not one that believes people have to confront their abusers.  I believe that writing a detailed letter to God, telling Him about it and then burning it in a ceremony is more beneficial.  As the smoke of the letters drifts away in the wind, the patient is encouraged to forgive and let it all go - turn it all over to God.  The past can be the past once we identify the defective coping measures it developed in us.

Pastoral Family Counselor... Find me at www.PostumCafe.com

Author of  Peculiar Christianity

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