Childhood trauma and abuse, adult depression and low self-confidence. (Counselling in Clapham, Croydon and Coulsdon).

Childhood trauma and abuse, adult depression and low self-confidence. (Counselling in Clapham, Croydon and Coulsdon).

Everyone of us has suffered some form of trauma at least once in our lifetime. Sometimes it doesn’t take much for us to feel extremely stressed. We all know the feeling – being under pressure from work, having experienced a death of a relative, having lost a job, having to move home. These are all very emotional situations, which will result in us feeling extremely vulnerable. In certain cases they can lead us to feeling depressed, anxious, angry and some of us will also start questioning our own sense of self.

Trauma in a clinical sense is only when it’s too much of something and when we can’t deal with it anymore. This will happen when a traumatic stressor is huge – war, terror, earthquake, rape, kidnapping, abuse, a car crash.
What I want to concentrate on here is a particular for of trauma – the childhood abuse, which a lot of people still suffer from as adults.

Unfortunately, despite a lot of efforts to eradicate the child abuse and neglect, this still happens and continues to plague not only the developing world, but the well advanced countries, too.
I find it especially sad, as it seems that Janusz Korczak, the man who inspired me to work with the human suffering, the man who was trying his best to improve the situation of children and to influence the policymakers, only achieved a tiny bit of what he had intended. Nevertheless, his legacy and the need for work continues. The issue is now even more and more current as nowadays we have a lot of children being raised by other children. This never results in new generations being healthy and strong. After all how are they supposed to learn solid ethics and principles from those who still lack them themselves… This is probably a topic for another blog.

As a counsellor I work quite a lot with those who suffered abuse and neglect when they were children. I offer support to the people who were once traumatised by those who were supposed to be the carers, providers and loving figures. It is extremely sad when this happens as it causes a lot of confusion in a child’s mind. A child is not equipped to deal with such conflicting scenarios where both love and abuse come from the same person. On the one hand we can assume that a child’s needs are quite simple – he/she needs a good nurturing adult, good food, shelter, development promoting stimuli. On the other hand the child is the most complex being we can imagine. The child needs a lot of love, indeed. But the love required will be something more than just a cuddle and a hot soup. The child needs to be held in a loving person’s mind, the child needs to be confident that he/she won’t be forgotten and put aside. The child needs to know that he/she is the most important person in the whole wide world. Of course, with time and maturation, other possibilities need to enter the child’s consciousness as well, e.g. I am not the only one in this world and others and pretty important, too. But before the child is able to deal with this notion, he/she needs to believe that there isn’t anything else more important than him/her. This requires a life long commitment from a parent.

Childhood trauma, neglect, emotional, physical, sexual abuse, will make the child shut down emotionally for many years to come, sometimes forever. The child, sadly, will start believing that he/she is the cause of all bad things happening to him/her. In adulthood this negative thinking can still continue and dominate the whole life. This can become quite crippling resulting in self-hatred and a conviction that ‘I am bad’. No wonder that it is then so difficult for some to achieve the best of what they intend to do. A lot of people are quite aware of what they want but for some reason they feel they are not able to ‘reach for it’. Often they don’t know why.
It is not uncommon that through therapy certain painful memories start to come back and the recovery can begin. Counselling can help to deal with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, poor confidence and a general belief that life will bring no good.
Sometimes we need to take a risk and try. Sometimes the first step is going to be the most difficult, however, most people who engage in a therapeutic process benefit from it. Your attitude is important, of course. The more positive you are towards the process of change, the greater the results. It is not uncommon that once we have begun the process we tend to become more and more self-aware, which can result in us growing in terms of our confidence and abilities to make more beneficial decisions, including those associated with our both personal and professional lives.

All in all, my belief is that counselling and psychotherapy can help us feel much better and come to terms with the childhood negative experiences, which at times can still be so haunting. Counselling can help us deal with the all strong and overwhelming emotions and it can also help us take control of our emotional lives.

Mirek Polanowski – counsellor in private practice in London Bridge, Clapham, Croydon and Coulsdon.

25th August 2015