7 Ways to Heal Your Childhood Trauma

Children are often viewed as highly resilient and able to bounce back from just about any situation, but traumatic experiences in childhood can have severe and long-lasting effects well into adulthood if they are left unresolved. Childhood trauma can result from anything that makes a child feel helpless and disrupts their sense of safety and security, including: sexual, physical or verbal abuse; domestic violence; an unstable or unsafe environment; separation from a parent; neglect; bullying; serious illness; or intrusive medical procedures.

If you’re living with the emotional and psychological consequences of a traumatic childhood, there is hope. Here are seven ways to heal your childhood trauma and reclaim your life.

1. Acknowledge and recognize the trauma for what it is. Victims of childhood trauma often spend years minimizing the event or dismissing it by pretending it didn’t happen or by succumbing to feelings of guilt or self-blame. The only way you can begin healing is to acknowledge that a traumatic event did occur and that you were not responsible for it.

2. Reclaim control. Feelings of helplessness can carry well over into adulthood and can make you feel and act like a perpetual victim, causing you to make choices based on your past pain. When you’re a victim, the past is in control of your present. But when you’ve conquered your pain, the present is controlled by you. There may always be a battle between past and present, but as long as you’re willing to let go of the old defenses and crutches you used as a child to navigate your trauma, you will be able to reclaim control of your life now and heal your pain.

3. Seek support and don’t isolate yourself. A natural instinct that many trauma survivors have is to withdraw from others, but this will only make things worse. A big part of the healing process is connecting to other people, so make the effort to maintain your relationships and seek support. Talk to a trusted family member, friend or counselor and consider joining a support group for survivors of childhood trauma.

4. Take care of your health. Your ability to cope with stress will increase if you are healthy. Establish a daily routine that allows you to get plenty of rest, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly. Most importantly, stay away from alcohol and drugs. These might provide temporary relief but will inevitably increase your feelings of depression, anxiety and isolation and can worsen your trauma symptoms.

5. Learn the true meaning of acceptance and letting go. Just because you accept something doesn’t mean you’re embracing your trauma or that you like it or agree with it. Acceptance means you’ve decided what you’re going to do with it. You can decide to let it rule your life or you can decide to let it go. Letting go doesn’t mean “poof!”  it’s magically gone. Letting go means no longer allowing your bad memories and feelings of a bad childhood to rob yourself of living a good life now.

6. Replace bad habits with good ones. Bad habits can take many forms, like negativity and always mistrusting others, or turning to alcohol or drugs when feelings become too hard to bear. Bad habits can be hard to break, especially when they’re used as crutches to help you avoid reliving the pain and trauma of your childhood. A support group or a therapist can help you learn the tools necessary to break your bad habits and replace them with good ones.

7. Be patient with yourself. When you’ve been seriously hurt as a child you develop out-of-control emotions, hopelessness, defense mechanisms and warped perceptions that are difficult to let go of. It will take a lot of time and hard work to let go of these feelings. Be patient with yourself and honor your progress, no matter how small it may seem. It’s the little victories in your recovery that will eventually help you win the battle of healing your childhood trauma.


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27 Responses to “7 Ways to Heal Your Childhood Trauma”

  1. Hayley

    I Have spent the afternoon with a colleague, I’d also like to acknowledge as a friend, listening and watching her pain, bought on by a very bad childhood. Because we are so alike and can normally identify with each other, I found it very difficult to understand what she had gone through and continued to go through. This page has given me a little insight and I have now challenged myself to help her through her troughs and be there with her when she peaks. She is a lovely lady and deserves a life. Thank you

  2. lido

    i would think to thank u guys for the info and let u guys know it was a duffculit journey my mother was a jehohvahs witnesses and my father was a acholcolhic and the main physhcail abuse and have decied for my sanity that im better off without them and that they r toxic parents.
    i would like info on a support group for survivors of childhood trauma . in san diego ca , 92115 or in the beach areas like pacific beach

  3. Tara

    Hi Lido,

    I don’t know the SD area, but I go to a few different 12 step programs that are helping me a lot. The biggest one is Al-Anon (for people affected by someone else’s drinking, current or in the past). There is also Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and CoDA (Codapendents Anonymous). People in all three programs have a good understanding of childhood trauma.

  4. Monty R.

    The information you have posted is so important for people to know and understand. The more of us that stand up and speak out and offer support and help in a helping, growth oriented manner, the sooner we will eradicate terrible offense to the human psyche!

    Thank you.

  5. Michael

    Great great advice….. I really enjoyed reading this…….

  6. Nkateko N.

    Wow, very profound information. We really need such…

  7. Sherry

    great information. I too suffer from past and it carried over into adult life. Been working 9 years on this and almost thete?

  8. SF

    This is far too simplified, and clearly not written by a person who has experienced childhood trauma.

  9. Dawn

    Thank you for this very clear piece. I honestly feel there isn’t enough material out there to help and encourage people to self heal from childhood trauma. Of course professional help should always be sought where possible, but financial restraints or location don’t always allow for that and to have some solid calming advice and structure outside of relying on a therapist is so important. I myself brushed it aside and minimised it over the years, thinking these were things everyone went through; that people were just cruel sometimes and the world is a sexual place. I thought I had a handle on it all, but the last year or so, in my mid 30s, I have been coming to realise that a lot of these symptoms are deeply ingrained in my core being and have prohibited me from living my fullest life. I over eat, drink, worry, fret and shy away from things I can achieve but somehow feel I can’t. I have only very recently explored the true reality that some of the things that happened to me were not just ‘a bit mean’ but damn right cruel, and some were illegal. And none of them my fault. I live a lucky and humble life and am devoted to healing properly every day so I can perhaps brings pure joy to others some day down the line. Not sure why I ended up writing so much here. Guess I just needed to say it somewhere.

  10. Sam

    I was adopted from birth in Brisbane in 1967 and I’m absolutely sure that I’ve suffered as a result of this unresolved trauma with no reference point to go back to to help.

  11. Casa Palmera Staff

    If you feel that adoption is the underlying cause of trauma have you talked to anyone to get details of your adoption if that is possible ? Sometimes it is not possible . If that is the case please consider seeking counseling to help get to the root of the underlying problem.

  12. Greg

    Do u have a support group in orange county Calif or can u recommend a good book to read about recovering from childhood trauma

  13. Casa Palmera Staff

    We do not have a referral for you in that area however, one of our therapist recommended the book ‘The Body Keeps the Score- Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma. It has a good section on childhood trauma and survival. If we find a good referral in Orange County, we can follow up with you. Thank you

  14. J

    Very helpful, thank you. I’ve just now started to realize and understand why I’m almost always in emotional pain (depression) and anxiety. It is because of things from my childhood I refused to face that I’m just starting to confront now. Although my childhood

  15. Ron

    I serve on a non-profit board developing chaplaincy for emergency responders- can you suggest specific materials for use with them and their families? Especially dealing with “normal” stress for families and responders but especially in helping with families of victims of accidents or other tragic incidents such as with death notifications. Any suggestions or referrals would be appreciated.

  16. Carissa

    i got molested by my cousin when i was five and im 25 and im still having problems to deal with this but i am recovering and not using sex or drugs or alcohol as an escape and its a battle everyday with myself sometimes im so overwhelmed with emotions i dont know how to let go bc im traumatized and im grateful for my family and bf to support me pls dont give up on others like me bc we desperately need others in our lives to give us hope even if we push u away its our defense mechanism bc we were once hurt dont give up on people like me and learn to try to understand them bc its a battling disease in ur head everyday!!!

  17. Carissa

    i wish to help others like me bc i know exactly what there through

  18. Frances

    This is AWESOME, an your not trying to make money. GOD GRANT YOU GUYS GREAT SUCCESS

  19. SCC

    Thanks for the list, didn’t think of the 5th point…
    I read that asthma and other troubles could be linked to childhood traumas. I also see a lot of articles about PTSD. It seems both could be related, as they may both be started by traumatic events ?
    PTSD is apparently reduced by tapping and REM techniques (sounds weird, but google it), so together with cognitive therapy, these should help ?
    Of course childhood trauma may cause deeper wounds, maybe some reconstruction work may be needed in some cases…

  20. Fabrizio

    “The cost of shaping ourselves to fit the desires, preferences, and expectations of others, is losing ourselves; and when we lose ourselves we become frozen without direction, unable to make our own choices.” – Teal Swan

  21. Sel

    Amazing bit of friendship and understanding written in one paragraph, so nice to not feel so alone

  22. Kathryn

    I have been out of a super abusive and traumatic situation for 15 years but it still haunts me. I have nightmares almost constantly about the abusive and traumatic event and sometimes I have flashbacks during class. I still suffer from PTSD, what do I do?

  23. Dr. Aimie Apigian

    I can really relate to your comment about resiliency and the lasting effects of childhood trauma! Why do people think that children are so resilient?? Because they hide it? And yet when you look at their emotional and behavioral health, they are not really hiding anything!
    The effects from childhood trauma are very hard to heal and repair, possible, but difficult. Yes, there are biological and genetic factors that you can fix and help speed up the process, but allowing things to continue with the assumption that children are resilient is very sad for that child and their future.
    Thank you ~
    Dr. Aimie

  24. Michele LaFleur

    Hi Kathryn,

    We would need more information to better understand your situation. Please call us at 858-481-4481.

  25. Esha

    This is a well crafted article where someone has briefed out the steps without going into stories and at the same time without missing any important info

  26. Jacqueline

    I am a recovering alcoholic, might sound silly but I’m glad because it has eventually led me to understand the reasons why I drank. After many rock bottoms and then periods of peace of mind, I came to finally except that I can’t drink. After several months I weened off my antidepressants but went down hill so did I intake in my first rehab for 28 days even though I was 9mths sober. It was here”Bradshaw House- Hallsgap Victoria Australia, through a fantastic group of supportive staff, all themselves recovering addicts, that I became aware of PTS from childhood and the impact it has had. I need to be on my meds until I have addressed the suppressed emotional issues that have plagued me all my life. Have done some emotional release therapy with dramatic results but it’s going to take time and everyday mindfulness. The body doesn’t like you confronting deep set issues and will fight for the familiar, but it is only recognizing, feeling and excepting these emotions that they can be brought to the surface and released. Wish me luck and I send all my positivity to those who have suffered and like me “are over it” I want to live now, not have one foot in the future and one in the past”