Attachment Trauma

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Early Childhood Attachment Trauma is defined as traumatic stress that occurs in the child-parent dynamic and is a specific form of interpersonal trauma. It includes caregiver misattunement, neglect, abuse, abandonment (through death, adoption, physical or emotional absenteeism), forced roles on a child by a caregiver, and witnessing violence, abuse or trauma. When a caregiver is symptomatic of unhealed trauma and parents through this lense, it exponentially increases the risk for attachment trauma in their children as the parent has limited emotional resources to offer an infant or child.

Attachment trauma impacts neurological, biological, emotional, spiritual, cognitive, and physical human development. It alters the way a person perceives themselves, relates to themselves, relates to others, soothes themselves (or doesn’t), and processes information.

Like any early modeling, it becomes the standard by which a person measures their self-worth and other relationships.

People who have suffered attachment trauma experience higher rates of feeling alienated from themselves and face more adversity in adulthood.

They are more likely to:

  • Be diagnosed by Western practitioners with ADHD, PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Personality Disorder, Eating Disorder, Bipolar I or II, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, or Dissociative Disorder. (Although it is important to state that not everyone who lives through trauma will develop these symptoms and not everyone who experiences these symptoms has lived through trauma. I’d like to recognize that here.)

  • Be diagnosed by Western practitioners with chronic pain disorder, chronic illness, or autoimmune disorder.

  • Grapple with addiction.

  • Experience impaired emotional intimacy in their relationships due to the decreased ability to trust.

  • Respond defensively, especially when they perceive rejection, hurt, and disapproval.

  • Have difficulty setting and maintaining boundaries or identifying and respecting others’ boundaries.

  • Have difficulty asking for and receiving help.

  • Experience symptoms like codependency, avoidance, procrastination.

  • Have difficulty accurately identifying their emotions and recognizing others’ emotions.

  • Struggle to regulate their emotions.

  • Experience a profound sense of helplessness, shame, and self-blame.

  • Struggle to describe (and often understand) their internal experience.

I provide my clients with a safe, non-judgmental space to explore their experiences and help them find skillful and healthy ways to heal from the effects of trauma and abuse.

A life of purpose and joy with meaningful and intimate connections is possible.

I am a licensed mental health professional located at 870 Market St., Ste. 1055 San Francisco, CA 94102, and virtually in Portland, OR.