Developmental Trauma Therapy in Costa Mesa

Trauma-informed therapy, like developmental trauma therapy, seeks to help the person feel safe, grounded, and regulated to protect and soothe their psyche.

Trauma vs. Developmental Trauma

Trauma can be defined as a profoundly stressful or overwhelming event that has lasting impacts on the nervous system. Often, people experience fear for their life or safety during these events, which typically stimulates them to respond emotionally. We all experience some degree of trauma throughout our lives. But as children, the brain is still developing, and experiences have lasting effects on who you become later in life — especially when these events involve violence or emotional abuse. Developmental Trauma affects how we see ourselves; it can lead to shallow feelings about what’s happening around us because we don’t have the skills to process experiences properly without them being linked with other thoughts/feelings. Developmental trauma can be defined as emotional abuse that occurs in early life or periods during which there’s a critical development. It often passes through generations and cultures, with each person experiencing the effects differently because it is so complex – sometimes referred to by its acronym: C-PTSD ( Complex PTSD).
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A photo of a person sitting on a bed, looking sad and troubled. Dual diagnosis is hard on anyone
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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Trauma is any event that overwhelms the nervous system and leads to a lasting effect on a person’s body and brain. Developmental trauma refers to the trauma that begins from birth and the early years of life where abuse, neglect, and a lack of safety are prevalent. Fearful situations that the child cannot escape develop damage to the body and mind and create long-lasting effects in adulthood. The circuitry that forms in the brain determines how we later see ourselves, relate to others, and live in the world.

Many emotional, psychological, and physical trauma symptoms can manifest, and most of these effects begin early on in life. It determines how a person is wired, how they cope, and how they respond to others and the world around them. Subsequently, symptoms arise and can be carried through later in development. A developmental trauma therapist may notice these signs:

  • Dissociation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Sleep issues
  • Negative beliefs
  • Anxiety and shame
  • Lack of trust
  • Chronic pain
  • Panic attacks
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Symptoms of Developmental Trauma

Have you ever wondered if you may need to see a therapist for an issue that has affected your well-being or has even debilitated you? Many people going into their first psychiatric or therapy treatment can be diagnosed with several diagnoses first, like bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit disorder, or major depression. If the core root of their trauma is not seen as their main issue, they could be treated for symptoms rather than causes. That’s where developmental trauma therapy can be a tremendous help.

Physical Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Lack of Focus
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Nightmares
  • Agitation
  • GI Issues
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Panic Attacks
  • Addiction 
  • Eating Disorders

Psychological Symptoms

  • Concentration Issues
  • Anger or Irritability
  • Shame
  • Anxiety
  • Self-Blame
  • Isolation
  • Dissociation
  • Relationship Issues
  • Trust Issues
  • Codependency
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What is Developmental Trauma Therapy?

Suppose a therapist recognizes trauma as the core of a person’s issues. In that case, they can apply treatment to recondition their nervous system and help the brain form new circuitry that aids in the strengthening of adaptive ways of living. The brain and nervous system can naturally heal when the body and mind’s emotional discharge and retraining work in concert. Trauma-informed therapy can approach a person dynamically and help the brain and nervous system develop alternate responses to stress.

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Forms of Developmental Trauma Therapy

There are numerous ways therapists can treat developmental trauma. These are modalities of rehabilitation that are commonly used. A therapist aware of the underlying issue can use many forms in conjunction with others.

  • Attachment Therapy – helps clients bond to a therapist that can stand in for an early caregiver who they could not attach to healthily.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – works with patterns of thinking that connect to a negative experience of self.
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy – teaches clients to track body impulses, muscular tension, breathing, and heart rate as it feels trauma resurfacing.
  • Somatic Experiencing – focuses on the body to discharge the emotions of trauma so the body can return to its natural balance to heal.
Through developmental trauma therapy, a person can understand how traumatic events early on in life have affected them into adulthood. Trauma-informed treatment helps build emotional resilience and a person’s emotional health to regain control of symptoms like anxiety. It instead addresses the wounding related to early attachment issues with primary caregivers. You can establish a trusting bond with a caring therapist for a positive therapeutic experience. That can change their life. For more information, you can call our support line to learn more about treatments.
Trauma Therapy Session