THERAPY FOR CHILDHOOD ABUSE AND NEGLECT

When we are low in self-esteem, have trouble believing in ourselves; have problems knowing who we are and finding things that bring us gratification; find we have serious problems in relating to others like avoiding connection, or trying too hard and putting up with people who do not see us, hear us for real, and do not value who we really are, or even are putting up with verbal, emotional or physical abuse; or maybe do have emotion but it is too intense, or perhaps we cannot seem to access our feelings and emotions; or when our thoughts are fearful, negative, or self attacking — we are probably people who were mistreated as children.

Thus, the way we are treated when young not only makes us miserable as children, but seriously impacts : our self-regard or sense of self; our relationships with others; our ability to succeed in work; and generally in our ability to lead a content and satisfactory life.

It can be easier to push these feelings, thoughts, and experiences to the side, telling ourselves these are events from too long ago, or “I should be over it already”, or we make our “to do” lists so long that there is no room for our feelings and experiences to truly surface, or we use substances to soothe our weary souls. Most people with serious childhood neglect and abuse try to keep these experiences out of awareness… but this only makes them stronger over time.

The truth is that prioritizing ourself, the way we are in the world, how we experience ourselves and others .. that is, taking oneself and our mental health seriously, are critical for obtaining awareness, understanding, and relief.

Therapy of this type needs to be done slowly, with care and compassion. We need a therapist who is well trained in working with more serious and deep-seated problems. One who is used to hearing the misery and horror early trauma can bring, and guide us thoughtfully into a clear understanding of what went wrong. There is no quick fix here.

If you are in the Berkeley area, Dr. Lynn Winsten is a great resource for such intense and yet relieving work. She specializes in childhood abuse, trauma, and neglect. She is someone devoted to helping people access the origins of their grief and in facilitating the healing process. Slowly it will become clear why you have the problems you suffer with now.

It can feel intimidating to reach out for help when trauma has you in its grip. It’s hard to feel safe and trust. But it is important to recognize that the majority of people seeking counseling or psychotherapy have experienced some type of childhood mistreatment, misatunement, or neglect. It is important to know you are not alone, that you are not being judged for your experiences and who you have become, and that your life is valuable and you are worthy and capable of recovery. This is the work that can change your life.