Trauma

Are You a Survivor of Developmental Trauma?

Have you experienced traumatic childhood events that affect the way you live now? These events could include living with an alcoholic parent, childhood physical or sexual abuse, childhood physical or emotional neglect, or witnessing your parents go through a messy divorce. Do you worry that your past experiences are now creating relationship challenges, low self-esteem, addiction issues, negative core beliefs, and struggles with your identity and sense of self?

Perhaps you are often overwhelmed by uncomfortable physical sensations, such as a racing heart or a tightening in your abdomen or chest for no apparent reason.  Or maybe you hyperventilate or experience shallow breathing, throat closure, or foggy-headedness. Or you could have chronic and ongoing illnesses or physical pains that seem to have no cause.

If you are reading this page, it’s likely the concept of developmental trauma resonates. However, because this trauma happened so early, it’s hard to know the root of why you may make bad choices that are against your self-interest and/or the best-interest of loved ones.

If you feel that your behaviors are being driven by early childhood trauma, you don’t have to struggle with this alone. Would you like to understand your behaviors, become more conscious of your actions, and free yourself from shame and guilt?

Developmental Trauma Is NOT Your Fault   

The number of survivors of childhood trauma is staggeringly high. When trauma occurs during developmental years, it colors behavior, choices, and regard for self. Sexuality is affected by developmental trauma of a sexual nature, for example, which can cause promiscuous behavior that can be endangering and stressful for you. It can also do the opposite. Sexual trauma and other traumas have an impact on intimacy whether you engage in higher-risk behavior or withdraw from sexuality.

Developmental trauma differs from shock trauma, such as an auto accident. It is rooted in chronic experiences throughout childhood that have (mis)shaped present beliefs about the world and the self. Early trauma affects your nervous system, creating a deregulation of response that puts you in a heightened, hyper-vigilant state. This can decrease your sense of safety, ability to trust, attachment to others, and possibly lead to addictions, such as eating disorders and other issues.

Another key feature of developmental trauma is that it is harder to be conscious of it, unlike a traumatic event in adulthood. You can be triggered by external occurrences and have resulting irrational, negative thoughts and feelings for reasons that long have been difficult for you to understand and work through.

If you are a survivor of developmental trauma, your unconscious beliefs and any feelings of worthlessness and lack of self-love you have are not your fault. If you feel you have difficulty regulating your emotions, forming attachments or healthy relationships, have an aversion to intimacy, or abuse substances as a survivor of trauma, you are not alone.

Moreover, I want you to understand that any lack of control you experience can be changed with developmental trauma counseling. Although you’re struggling now with no apparent end in sight, you can still realize inner peace, a sense of control, a chance to flourish, and abundant self-love.

Developmental Trauma Therapy Can Put You Back In Control

In session, which will take place in the cozy and peaceful environment that is my office, we will work on the way your mind and body have adapted to early trauma. These adaptations are both cognitive and physical in nature, so we will talk through your issues as well as work with your physical self through somatic therapy. With my guidance, you will slowly explore bodily sensations and responses to trauma, as well as negative thought patterns so a new means of adaptation, one that is healthy and peaceful, emerges.

I am a well-trained psychotherapist, as well as a highly-qualified somatic therapist, with a masters’ in somatic psychology. I am ready to assist you as we resolve all issues of developmental trauma. We will collaborate to create a strategy for healing that addresses how your trauma is affecting various aspects of your life and personal well-being.

My approach is collaborative and compassionate, and my goal as a trauma therapist is to go where the work leads us, and let the process happen holistically, gently, and gradually so you are not retraumatized by the treatment experience. I practice somatic therapy, which allows for a mindfully-measured process of body awareness and healing to occur without being overwhelming.

Regardless of how your trauma is affecting you, my training and experience allows us to gently work through emotions and the resulting physical sensations experienced within your body. I am observant and caring, and combine somatic work with teaching therapeutic “re-parenting” techniques to heal trauma.

Re-parenting is a guided experience that allows you the opportunity to learn to apply self-loving strategies directed towards the child you were at the time of the trauma. Additionally, I facilitate insight-oriented explorations in session, which will help you see your experiences and self-concept with fresh and more forgiving eyes.

You will learn that your body is your friend and reconnect with it as you use somatic therapy to release old hurts. This includes sexual trauma so you can experience sexual enjoyment that is healthy, with a reparative sexual progression. Again, recovery from developmental trauma can take time and as your therapist I will proceed observantly, at your pace.

As Someone Who Has Lived With the Effects of Developmental Trauma, You May Be Thinking…

I have so much pain from my childhood; I’m afraid to look back.

My approach takes the work in easy, measured, manageable chunks. Nothing we do in session will go so deep into a traumatic experience that we can’t easily back off. Even if you feel like you are becoming overwhelmed, I will be there and carefully and daringly observant of where you are emotionally at every moment so you feel safe.

I need quick solutions. I’ve been doing poorly for a long time, and I don’t have much free time for this.

Because your trauma took some time to set in, whether because the events happened over a length of time or because the effects accumulated as you matured, healing your wounds will be an incremental process. However, if you feel ready to work with me on positive change, the results will be rewarding and you will likely notice gains early in treatment. What you will quickly earn back and regain in this process will be invaluable as you repair and build relationships, and learn to love who you are.

I feel pretty cut-off from my body. How will somatic therapy help?

As Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk (a psychiatrist who is an expert on trauma) has stated, “The single most important issue for traumatized people is to find a sense of safety in their own bodies.” It is my opinion as a trained somatic therapist that somatic therapy is a superior approach to addressing developmental trauma through body-reconnecting techniques. In the treatment process I will explain how it works so the journey feels safe and not beyond what is comfortable.

There Is Hope For Relief

I am here to discuss with you how best to proceed. I want to help you succeed, grow, heal, and understand that you are so much more than your trauma and you deserve a peaceful, fulfilling life. Please call 510-575-0780 or email kellykennardmft@gmail.com to schedule a developmental trauma therapy consultation.