The Psychology of Trauma

The Psychological Impact of Trauma

Is long-term childhood trauma treated differently than acute trauma in adulthood?

With more chronic, childhood trauma, the therapy takes more time and needs to move more slowly. The therapy should first address any severe problems with functioning, such as self-mutilation, suicidality, and severe personality pathology. Only when the patient can tolerate talking about the trauma without becoming overwhelmed by painful emotion or developing dangerous symptoms, should the therapy address the trauma directly. With some people this can happen fairly quickly, with others it might take years. Some people with very fragile emotional and behavioral control may never fully process the trauma. Instead, the therapy will focus on shoring up self-control capacities and the general ability to function.


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