Did The Problem Start In Childhood?

Individual Counseling Insights From Westlake Village-Based Patricia McTague-Loft

Life is full of problems – no news flash there. Sometimes the reason we have the problem is crystal clear: “My boss is a bigot; he hassles me just because I’m (insert some aspect of your identity here).” In most cases like that, the solution is also pretty obvious. Quit. Report him to HR. Take some form of legal action.

But many times the problem may be obvious, but its source is not. This is often the case when someone begins therapy. Why do I have this problem? Is the question bedeviling them. That too is often the question that needs an answer before effective therapy can begin.

Many times the source of the problem lies in a childhood trauma. Writing for Psychology Today, Kaytee Gillis says “ I find that most people know whether or not they have a traumatic history, but admitting it brings guilt, remorse, grief and a range of negative feelings along with it. Many people start to experience negative symptoms or emotions and feel the need to work through their traumas and heal. Others only feel the need to go back and work through their childhood trauma when their own children provoke insecurities or hidden trigger wounds.”

Gillis has taken a keen interest in this subject, so much so that she has written a book about it: Breaking the Cycle: The 6 Stages of Healing from Childhood Family Trauma. She uses an excerpt from Breaking the Cycle in her Psychology Today article — a series of 12 questions to help you recognize if a problem may have its root in a childhood trauma. If you suspect this is the case, answer the following questions with Never, Sometimes, Often or Frequently. As Gillis admits, this list is not exhaustive and grading your answer is not as simple as “5 answers of Frequently means it’s childhood trauma.” Instead, think of it as a guide — an indication that perhaps the issue of childhood trauma needs further analysis. If that is indeed the case, consider giving me a call.

Below, Gillis’ 12 Questions:

“When I think of my childhood, I feel sadness or loss.”

“I have difficulty getting along with one or more of my adult caregivers.”

“I worry that people will leave or abandon me.”

“I struggle with relationships (platonic or romantic) or feel like I can’t seem to have a healthy relationship.”

“I worry that I am not worthy of love.”

“When I think about my childhood, there are big periods of time that I do not remember.”

“It is difficult for me to spend time with my parents or family for more than a short period. I need limited or controlled environments.”

“I feel different’ or disconnected from others, or that others do not understand me.”

“I have a history of unhealthy relationships with food, alcohol or other substances.”

“I find it difficult to trust or rely on others because I feel like people will end up hurting me in the end.”

“I have been told that I ‘overreact’ or respond with a much higher reaction than situations warrant.”

“I have been physically, sexually, verbally, or emotionally mistreated by someone who was supposed to care for me.”