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- What is Childhood Trauma?
- Symptoms of Childhood Trauma in Adults
- Childhood Trauma Treatments & Therapy
- Childhood Trauma Therapy Treatment Costs & Insurance Coverage
- Childhood Trauma Therapy Treatment Success & Outlook
What is Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma refers to a broad range of experiences that occur during childhood (0-18 years of age) that have the potential to cause long-lasting adverse effects on an individual’s mental and physical health. These experiences may include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; neglect; witnessing violence or abuse; experiencing a natural disaster or other traumatic event; and more.
Childhood trauma can impact a child’s development and function in various ways, even into adulthood. For example, it can affect their ability to form relationships, regulate emotions, and cope with stress. In some cases, it can also increase the risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. Additionally, traumatic events can even affect how a child’s brain develops.1
Studies have revealed that children who have survived trauma may exhibit the following:
- Learning issues, such as declining grades and an increase in suspensions and expulsions
- A rise in the usage of medical and psychological services
- Increased involvement in the justice or welfare systems
- Persistent health issues (such as diabetes and heart disease)
Not all children who experience trauma will develop long-term negative effects, and the severity and type of trauma experienced can vary widely. However, it’s essential to recognize the potential impact of childhood trauma and provide appropriate support and resources to those who have experienced it.
Insurance may be able to help cover the cost of therapy. Find out if your insurance provider can help with the costs by filling in our confidential insurance verification form below.
Facts & Statistics About Childhood Trauma
The following are facts and statistics about childhood trauma:2
- By age 16, more than two-thirds of children are experiencing at least one traumatic event.
- Child abuse and/or neglect affected at least 1 in 7 children in the past year, which is probably low.
- There were 1,840 child abuse and neglect fatalities in the United States in 2019.
- More than 1,000 young people are treated in emergency rooms daily for injuries caused by physical assault.
- About 1 in 5 high school students in 2019 said they had experienced bullying on school grounds in the previous academic year—1 in 6 experienced cyberbullying.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder affects 12% of ill youth and 19% of injured youth.3
- By the time they are 16, more than 25% of American youth have been through a significant traumatic event, and many have experienced repeated traumas.4
- More than 50% of families have experienced some sort of disaster.5
- About 60% of people in Tennessee had an adverse childhood experience (ACE). The most frequent ones include divorce, emotional abuse, and another family member abusing drugs or alcohol.6
- Trauma is a risk factor for serious mental illness, including substance use disorders.7
- According to one study, those with untreated childhood trauma had higher levels of glucocorticoid resistance, which is strongly linked to depression.8
- Except for sexual abuse, which girls report experiencing at greater rates than men in Tennessee, males and females are exposed to adverse childhood experiences at roughly the same rate.9
Not all children who experience the below risk factors will necessarily experience trauma, and other factors may also be at play. However, recognizing these potential causes and risk factors can help identify and address childhood trauma.
Various personal, interpersonal, social, and community variables influence the possibility of childhood trauma. Even though they are not at fault for the harm done to them, children have a higher chance of suffering abuse if they exhibit particular personality traits. Contributing variables—not causes in the strict sense—are risk factors.
Examples of Risk factors
Risk factors for childhood trauma may include:10
- Disabilities in children that may increase caregiver burden
- Social isolation
- Parents’ lack of understanding of children’s needs and child development
- Parents’ history of domestic abuse
- Poverty and other socioeconomic disadvantages, such as unemployment
- Family disorganization, divorce, and violence
- Lack of family togetherness
- Substance abuse in the family
- Young, single non-biological parents
- Negative interactions and poor parent-child connections
- Parental thoughts and emotions supporting abusive behaviors
- Parental stress and distress, including depression or other mental health conditions
- Community violence
It’s also critical to understand severe stress’s symptoms and its immediate and long-term effects. Each child may exhibit traumatic stress symptoms differently. Younger children might react differently than older children. See the below table for examples.
|PRESCHOOL CHILDREN||ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN||MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL CHILDREN|
|Fear of being separated from parent/caregiver||Anxious or fearful||Feels depressed or lonely|
|Cries/screams a lot||Feels frequent guilt or shame||Develops eating disorders or self-harming behaviors|
|Eats poorly or loses weight||Difficulty concentrating||Begins abusing substances|
|Has nightmares||Difficulty sleeping||Becomes involved in risky behaviors (i.e., sexual)|
Types & Examples of Childhood Trauma
There are a variety of childhood trauma types and examples. Some children may experience multiple types of trauma, and the severity and duration of the trauma can vary significantly. Some common types and examples of childhood trauma include the following:11
- Abuse and Neglect: Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, as well as neglect, can cause significant trauma in children. This can include acts of violence, threats, and bullying.
- Family Dysfunction: Childhood trauma can also arise from living in a household with ongoing dysfunction, such as parental conflict, divorce, substance abuse, or mental illness.
- Natural Disasters: Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes, can cause significant trauma in children who experience or witness them.
- Medical Trauma: Medical trauma can occur when a child experiences a significant injury or illness or witnesses a close family member going through injury or disease, such as chronic pain, a life-threatening diagnosis, or major surgery.
- Community Violence: Exposure to community violence, including gun violence and gang activity, can also cause significant trauma in children.
- Socioeconomic Status: Children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to experience childhood trauma due to increased exposure to stressors, including poverty, housing instability, and food insecurity.
- Genetics: Some research suggests that genetic factors may play a role in a child’s vulnerability to experiencing trauma and their ability to cope with it.
Symptoms of Childhood Trauma in Adults
Not all individuals who have experienced childhood trauma will experience the following symptoms. Still, the effects of trauma can be long-lasting on an individual’s mental and physical health. Here are some common symptoms of childhood trauma in adults:
- Anxiety and Fear: Adults who experienced childhood trauma may have persistent anxiety and fear, including panic attacks, phobias, and difficulty trusting others.
- Depression: Childhood trauma can increase the risk of developing depression in adulthood, leading to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low self-esteem.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD can occur in adults who have experienced childhood trauma, causing nightmares and other symptoms related to the traumatic event.
- Self-harm and Suicidal Thoughts: Adults who have experienced childhood trauma may engage in self-harming behaviors, such as cutting or substance abuse, and may have thoughts of suicide.
- Difficulties with Relationships: Childhood trauma can have a negative impact on an individual’s ability to form and maintain healthy relationships, leading to difficulty with intimacy and trust.
- Chronic Physical Health Problems: Childhood trauma can also lead to chronic physical health problems, such as gastrointestinal issues, headaches, and chronic pain.
- Substance Abuse: Adults who have experienced childhood trauma may be at increased risk for substance abuse and addiction.
If childhood trauma symptoms are impacting you or your loved one’s daily life, causing significant distress, or affecting physical health, seeking childhood trauma therapy for adults is essential. Qualified therapists can provide support, guidance, and appropriate treatment to help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.
Childhood Trauma Treatments & Therapy
Therapy for childhood trauma can take many forms. The specific therapy approach will depend on your unique needs, preferences, and the type of trauma(s) you experienced. The ultimate goal of childhood trauma therapy is to help process the trauma, reduce symptoms, and improve overall well-being. Here are some common elements you can expect in therapy for childhood trauma:
- Creating a Safe Environment: One of the most critical aspects of therapy for childhood trauma is creating a safe and supportive environment. The therapist will work to establish a trusting relationship with you and ensure that you feel comfortable and safe throughout therapy treatment.
- Identifying Trauma Triggers: The therapist will work with you to identify triggers that may lead to re-experiencing traumatic events or symptoms. This can involve developing coping strategies to manage triggers and reduce symptoms.
- Processing Traumatic Memories: In many cases, childhood trauma counseling involves processing and working through traumatic experiences and memories. This can include talking through the traumatic event, writing about it, or engaging in other forms of expressive therapy to process the experience.
- Developing Coping Strategies: Childhood trauma therapy can also involve developing coping strategies to manage symptoms and reduce the impact of the trauma on daily life. This can include relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices, and other self-care strategies.
- Building Resilience: Therapy for childhood trauma may focus on building resilience and increasing overall well-being. This can involve identifying strengths and developing skills to improve emotional regulation, social support, and overall quality of life.
- Using Evidence-Based Treatments: Childhood trauma therapy often uses evidence-based treatments, such as trauma-focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR treatment), Prolonged Exposure therapy, Cognitive Reprocessing Therapy (CPT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
- Medications: Medication is not always necessary or appropriate for every individual. In addition, they’re typically used in conjunction with psychotherapy. However, antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of depression and anxiety that are common in individuals who have experienced childhood trauma. Other medications, such as anti-anxiety or mood stabilizers, may also help manage symptoms.
When seeking a therapist for childhood trauma therapy in Tennessee, looking for someone with experience and training in trauma therapy is essential. You may also want to consider the therapist’s approach, availability, and location. It’s important to find someone whom you feel comfortable working with and who can provide the support and guidance you need to heal from childhood trauma.
Many mental health professionals can be qualified to treat childhood trauma, including psychologists, social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and psychiatrists.
The benefits of therapy can vary depending on the individual and the type of therapy you receive. However, seeking help from a qualified therapist can be an important step in healing from childhood trauma and improving the overall quality of life. Here are some potential benefits of going to therapy for childhood trauma:
- Reduced symptoms of trauma: Therapy can help individuals manage and reduce symptoms of trauma, such as anxiety, depression, and flashbacks.
- Increased self-awareness: Therapy can help individuals gain a deeper understanding of how their past experiences have affected them and how their thoughts and behaviors may be influenced by trauma.
- Improved relationships: Childhood trauma can make it difficult to form and maintain healthy relationships, but therapy can help individuals develop better communication skills, set boundaries, and build stronger connections with others.
- Increased coping skills: Therapy can provide individuals with tools and strategies for managing stress and difficult emotions, such as mindfulness or relaxation techniques.
- Improved self-esteem: Childhood trauma can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-worth, but therapy can help individuals build a stronger sense of self and develop a more positive self-image.
- Greater sense of empowerment: Childhood trauma can make individuals feel helpless and out of control. However, therapy for childhood trauma can help individuals develop a greater understanding of agency and control over their lives.
- Improved physical health: Childhood trauma can adversely affect physical health, but therapy can help individuals learn to manage stress and improve their overall well-being.
Childhood Trauma Therapy Treatment Costs & Insurance Coverage
The cost of childhood trauma counseling can vary according to many variables, including the therapist’s location, the type of therapy used, and the severity of your trauma. The following are average costs, though it’s important to remember that they may vary by location and other factors and may not accurately reflect what you’ll pay in Tennessee.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions usually cost between $100 and $200 a session.12 In addition, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) typically consists of a weekly individual therapy session, a weekly group therapy session, and weekly phone conversations. A complete program of DBT can cost anywhere from $150 to $300 per week.13 And eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) can cost between $100 and $250 a session. Since multiple sessions of EMDR therapy are needed for the best results, the final cost can range from $800 to $2,000.14
Many insurance plans cover mental health services, including trauma therapies. However, the extent of your coverage and expenses you must pay out-of-pocket will vary based on your particular policy.
The specific requirements for insurance coverage of childhood trauma therapy may vary depending on the individual’s insurance plan and the state where they live. However, in general, there are several key requirements that insurance plans may have for covering mental health services, including therapy for childhood trauma:
- Medical Necessity:15 Insurance plans typically require that mental health services, including therapy for childhood trauma, be considered medically necessary to be covered. This means the treatment must be necessary for a formally diagnosed mental health condition.
- Provider Qualifications: Insurance plans may require that the therapist providing the therapy be licensed and/or certified in the state in which you’re receiving treatment and that they have experience working with trauma survivors.
- Covered Services: Insurance plans may have specific guidelines around the types of childhood trauma therapy covered. For example, some plans may only cover certain types of therapy, such as CBT or EMDR treatment.
- Limits on Sessions: Insurance plans may limit the number of sessions covered per year or per diagnosis.
- Preauthorization: Insurance plans may require preauthorization for therapy services, which means that the therapist must obtain approval from the insurance company before providing the services.
Confirming your benefits is important to identify the exact coverage and expenses connected to mental health services. But first, you may be wondering, “Where can I get childhood therapy trauma near me?” Athena Care has multiple mental health clinics throughout Tennessee, open Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. We’re also in-network with most major insurance policies.
One of our expert care coordinators would be happy to verify your insurance benefits for you. Simply call (615) 320-1155 or complete our confidential, no-obligation online form. A care coordinator will reach out to review the details of your policy, including costs and any exclusions or limitations, and explain your options for childhood trauma therapy.
We provide all Tennessee mental health services under one roof. Athena Care handles everything in-house as opposed to visiting a psychiatrist who could refer you to a therapist or other mental health expert to complete your mental health assessments.
Childhood Trauma Therapy Treatment Success & Outlook
The outlook for childhood trauma depends on several factors, including the type and severity of the trauma, the age at which it occurred, and the individual’s support system and resources for recovery. While childhood trauma can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s physical and mental health, it is important to note that recovery and healing are possible.
Research has shown that early intervention and treatment can significantly improve outcomes for individuals who have experienced childhood trauma. This can include a combination of therapy, medication, and other support services, such as support groups or case management.
Recovery from childhood trauma is a process and may not happen overnight. Working through the trauma and its effects on your life can take time, effort, and dedication. However, with the proper support and resources, individuals who have experienced childhood trauma can go on to live fulfilling and meaningful lives.
Progress in therapy for childhood trauma can be slow and may not always be linear. Some sessions may feel more productive than others, and setbacks may occur along the way. However, if you are committed to the process of therapy and are willing to put in the effort, you can make progress toward healing and recovery from childhood trauma.
The duration of therapy for childhood trauma can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the type and severity of the trauma, the individual’s symptoms and needs, and the type of therapy being used. However, therapy for childhood trauma is often a longer-term process that can last anywhere from several months to several years.
A few signs that childhood trauma counseling may be working include the following:
- Increased resilience
- Improved interpersonal and professional relationships
- Increased awareness
- Reduced symptoms
Below are a few statistics regarding the success of treatment for childhood trauma:
- A review published in the 2004 Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine issue recommends cautious optimism. However, the research evaluated all points to the possibility that organized therapy treating PTSD and trauma symptoms might lessen the consequences of trauma on children and adolescents.16
- The American Psychological Association strongly advises prolonged exposure therapy as a first-line treatment for PTSD.17
- Cognitive reprocessing therapy (CPT) is also regarded as a first-line treatment for PTSD. The American Psychological Association highly advises it.18
- 71% of individuals who had prolonged exposure therapy saw reduced PTSD symptoms.19
- According to a 2018 study, between 30% and 97% of PTSD patients who received CPT no longer satisfied the diagnostic criteria. Those figures were between 41% and 95% for patients who received prolonged exposure and 61% to 82.4% for those who received cognitive-behavioral therapy.20
- “Supporting Brain Development in Traumatized Children and Youth.” Childwelfare.gov, Sept. 2017, www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/braindevtrauma.pdf.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “Understanding Child Trauma.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), www.samhsa.gov/child-trauma/understanding-child-trauma. Accessed 4 May 2023.
- Kahana, Shoshana Y., et al. “Posttraumatic Stress in Youth Experiencing Illnesses and Injuries: An Exploratory Meta-analysis.” Traumatology, vol. 12, no. 2, SAGE Publishing, June 2006, pp. 148–61. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534765606294562.
- Wong, Marleen, Ph. D. ,. Director and LAUSD Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Schools. “Basic Facts About Child Trauma.” The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, melissainstitute.org/documents/ChildTraumaBasicFacts.pdf. Accessed 4 May 2023.
- “Reports and Publications.” Save the Children, www.savethechildren.org/us/about-us/resource-library.
- Farmer, Blake. “How Childhood Trauma Is Costing Tennessee Billions — by Turning Kids Into Smokers.” WPLN News | Nashville Public Radio, 17 June 2019, wpln.org/post/how-childhood-trauma-is-costing-tennessee-billions-by-turning-kids-into-smokers.
- Khoury, B. S. Lamya, et al. “Substance Use, Childhood Traumatic Experience, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in an Urban Civilian Population.” Depression and Anxiety, vol. 27, no. 12, Wiley-Blackwell, Dec. 2010, pp. 1077–86. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20751.
- Nikkheslat, Naghmeh, et al. “Childhood Trauma, HPA Axis Activity and Antidepressant Response in Patients With Depression.” Brain Behavior and Immunity, vol. 87, Elsevier BV, July 2020, pp. 229–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2019.11.024.
- Tennessee Department of Health. “Adverse Childhood Experiences in Tennessee.” TN.gov, May 2015, www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/Tennessee_ACE_Final_Report_with_Authorization.pdf.
- American Trauma Society. “Risk and Protective Factors.” Trauma Survivors Network, www.traumasurvivorsnetwork.org/traumapedias/777. Accessed 4 May 2023.
- Oseldman. “Trauma Types.” The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 25 May 2018, www.nctsn.org/what-is-child-trauma/trauma-types.
- Lauretta, Ashley. “How Much Does Therapy Cost?” edited by Alena Hall, Forbes Health, 2021, https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/how-much-does-therapy-cost/
- Haragutchi, Hart MA, LMHCA. “How much Does Therapy Cost?” Reviewed by: Benjamin Troy, MD for Choosing Therapy, 2020. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/cost-of-therapy/
- “How Much Does EMDR Therapy Cost?” HowMuchIsIt.Org, 2018, https://www.howmuchisit.org/emdr-therapy-cost/
- “UNDERSTANDING HEALTH CARE BILLS: What Is Medical Necessity?” National Association of Insurance Commissioners, content.naic.org/sites/default/files/consumer-health-insurance-what-is-medical-necessity.pdf. Accessed 4 May 2023.
- Taylor, Tisha L., and Claude M. Chemtob. “Efficacy of Treatment for Child and Adolescent Traumatic Stress.” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, vol. 158, no. 8, American Medical Association, Aug. 2004, p. 786. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.158.8.786.
- “Prolonged Exposure (PE).” American Psychological Association, 1 June 2020, www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/treatments/prolonged-exposure.
- Hagerty, Sarah L., et al. “Best Practices for Approaching Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure During the COVID‐19 Pandemic.” Journal of Traumatic Stress, vol. 33, no. 5, Wiley-Blackwell, Oct. 2020, pp. 623–33. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22583.
- Hendriks, Lotte, et al. “Intensive Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Chronic PTSD Patients Following Multiple Trauma and Multiple Treatment Attempts.” European Journal of Psychotraumatology, vol. 9, no. 1, Taylor and Francis, Jan. 2018, p. 1425574. https://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2018.1425574.
- Watkins, Laura L., et al. “Treating PTSD: A Review of Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Interventions.” Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 12, Frontiers Media, Nov. 2018, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00258.
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