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Trauma Talks Series: Healing Developmental Trauma

Developmental trauma wounds are often at the core of our immature, anxious, or fearful behaviors. These early life experiences may have restricted your achievement of effectively reaching developmental milestones. These experiences may not be part of our everyday awareness, and are only held unconsciously, yet they still have the power to affect our lives in profound ways. Because we may not be consciously aware of them, we may be baffled by some of our own symptoms and behaviors that stem from these developmental delays.

It may be fair to say that most of us carry some amount of developmental wounds. Effective therapy therefore must address these wounds and encourage maturation of the affected developmental need, rather than only addressing the behaviors or symptoms.

This work of addressing the wounds directly is valuable when we can tolerate affect and stay engaged. If overwhelmed, resourcing and skills are needed to assist the nervous system, or in polyvagal theory language, to stay in the window of tolerance. Furthermore, the attuned relationship between therapist and client, with a felt sense of feeling ‘safe enough’ in the present, is not only imperative, but is reparative and healing in itself.

Luckily research, such as in Dan Siegal’s & Alan Shore’s work, show us that the brain is very capable of powerful shifts and change. And re-attunement can facilitate healthy developmental growth at any age.

Modeling and learning healthy ego boundaries in or out of the therapist’s office can accelerate healing. These approaches include, but are not limited to: consistency, acceptance, nonjudgmental reactions, warmth, caring, and validation.

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