Skip to main content

Finding Freedom: How Therapy Can Help You Break Free from Childhood Trauma, Toxic Stress & Emotional Neglect

By May 25, 2023June 21st, 2023Trauma Recovery

We all yearn for freedom deep within our hearts. And yet, so many of us still live in prisons created by our childhood experiences.
Most clients come to me in pain, struggling with life’s challenges, in their relationships, or because of the lack thereof. But above all, they struggle with their own conditioning, limiting beliefs, and intense difficult emotions. Deep inside they know that it is these internal limitations that are the biggest obstacles to the peace, freedom, and happiness they deeply long for.

Childhood Imprints and the Impact of Toxic Stress:

Our childhood always leaves deep imprints. You become what you are exposed to, for better or for worse. During the first years of our lives, we are like little sponges, absorbing everything around us. Our understanding of ourselves, other people, and the world around us is formed during this time. These patterns are deeply ingrained, often pre-verbal, making them difficult to access directly. 

And, at the same time, it is these patterns that determine the ways we experience the world, plan and execute our actions, make decisions and choices and filter information that comes through our senses. They determine how we react emotionally, what we like and what we dislike, and how able we are to connect to others, to love, and to feel loved.

The Impact of Childhood Trauma and the Cycle of Repetition:

Childhood is a time of innocence and growth, but for some of us, it was also a time filled with stress and adversity that left lasting scars. When toxic stress, trauma, or emotional neglect takes place during these formative years, they always have a profound impact on adult life. They can keep us hostage, often making us repeat the same old, unhealthy patterns over and over again.

What made Emma seek psychotherapy:

When Emma came to me, she was incredibly stressed and exhausted, teetering on the verge of an emotional breakdown. With a compassionate heart and an unwavering desire to help others, she did everything in her power to be everything for everyone. 

At work, she willingly took on additional tasks, went above and beyond her job description, and was often the first to volunteer for projects or lend a helping hand to her colleagues. 

In her personal life, she was the go-to person for all her family and friends, always available to lend a listening ear, offer guidance, or provide a shoulder to lean on. 

She was also the first to offer her time to all kinds of practical tasks that “had to be done,” but no one else wanted to do them. 

At the same time, she notoriously neglected her own needs and sacrificed her own wants and wishes, not to mention dreams.

Her constant focus on others left her emotionally drained and overwhelmed. Setting boundaries proved a huge challenge, as her biggest fear was disappointing or letting others down. 

In the end, despite being surrounded by people, she felt extremely lonely. 

As the years went by, she found it increasingly difficult to manage her emotions. Restlessness and anxiety alternated with exhaustion and emotional numbness. She started to overeat, because food, especially chocolate, brought at least a fleeting sense of relief. 

Emma’s body yearned for rest, and her heart yearned for someone to be there for her for a change, but the patterns and beliefs she learned early in her life were relentless, allowing no room for self-care or for asking for help.


3 Reasons Why Therapy is the Safest and Most Effective Way to Recover from Childhood Trauma

Healing your childhood wounds and reshaping the patterns that keep you hostage is a complex process, hard to complete without professional support.  By working with a trauma recovery psychotherapist, you give yourself the best opportunity to heal and recover fully without creating an extra layer of pain and trauma. Your therapist will help you understand your unique story, teach you coping strategies, and facilitate the exploration of past memories in a safe and supportive environment. They will empower you to regain control over your life and develop all the necessary skills to heal and rediscover your authentic and empowered sense of self. 

There are 3 main reasons why therapy offers such a safe and effective environment for this transformational journey:

  1. Creating a Safe Space for Healing:

Recovering from trauma is a complex process. After all, we’re talking about changing deep-rooted patterns and dealing with very sensitive and vulnerable parts that you carry inside. 

But here’s the good news: professional therapy is designed to create a safe and supportive space where you can work through your childhood trauma without feeling overwhelmed, disturbed, or retraumatized. 

The therapists who specialize in trauma are experts at creating an environment that promotes safety, trust, and healing. They understand how trauma affects you and how to assist you on the journey to healing while moving at a pace that suits you. 

You will first develop skills to regulate your emotions. This way, when you’re dealing with difficult memories, you’ll be able to handle feelings that may come up. You will learn techniques like grounding, breathing exercises, and coping strategies that will help you stay emotionally stable and in control throughout the whole process (and also when you meet challenges outside the therapy room!).  It’s all about making you feel safe and empowered!

  1. Healing within a relationship:

Here’s the thing about childhood trauma: it happens within relationships. So, the healing process needs to happen in the context of relationships too. Healing from childhood trauma means working on repairing and changing the ways you relate to others, building healthy connections, and forming secure attachments. 

Therapy gives you this amazing opportunity to form a healing relationship with a trained professional who can offer you support, validation, and unconditional positive regard. This relationship becomes a safe and solid foundation where you can explore your usual ways of relating to others, uncover what triggers you, and tackle those automatic reactions head-on.

 It’s a chance for you to heal your attachment wounds and develop a secure way of connecting with others. Within the therapeutic relationship, you’ll experience a sense of security and empathy with your therapist. This safe space allows you to express your emotions, share your experiences, and be validated and understood without any judgment.

You will experience what it feels like to be seen, heard, and accepted. And guess what? The skills and insights you gain in therapy can be applied to your personal and professional relationships right away. It’s all about growth and bringing positive changes into your life!


  1. From co-regulation to self-regulation and self-nourishment.

If your childhood was difficult, if you endured childhood trauma or emotional neglect, your ability to regulate emotions and manage your arousal levels may have been compromised.

Therapy offers you a second chance to unlock the power of co-regulation as a stepping stone toward reclaiming your own self-regulation and self-nourishment.

It is in the presence of a safe and loving caregiver that a young baby first learns how to regulate their emotions and balance their arousal levels. 

But if the primary caregiver does not have the ability to attune to a child’s need and respond appropriately, the child is left to their own devices and develops coping patterns that are very far from optimal.

Therapy provides means to rewire these patterns. 

Your therapist becomes a safe and supportive presence, akin to a caring caregiver. Together, you create an environment that acknowledges and embraces your emotions, fostering newfound confidence in navigating your inner world. 

Co-regulation serves as the cornerstone of your therapeutic journey. As you express your thoughts, fears, and joys, your therapist offers guidance and understanding, attuning to your needs and providing deserved support and validation. 

With their gentle presence, they help you explore the depths of your emotions, gradually finding your own rhythm of self-regulation.

Emma’s Journey to Freedom:

When Emma started therapy with me, our one-hour session became her only dedicated time for self-care each week. And she finally had someone who was genuinely interested in her thoughts, emotions, and needs, creating a safe space for her to explore her life experiences. 

As Emma began unravelling patterns and connecting the dots between her past and present challenges, she grew curious and slowly started to give more attention (and time!) to her own needs and desires. 

In the first stage of therapy, we focused on building resilience and finding balance. Emma learned techniques to regulate her nervous system, such as special breathing exercises, journaling or grounding practices which she simply loved as they allowed her to stay awake in charge of her emotions and automatic reactions. These activities became part of her personal wellness map and provided a safe anchor, ready to use whenever she needed it. 

During the second stage, we worked on processing her childhood memories. 

Together, we explored what was it like for her to see her mother’s struggle with depression, her withdrawal, and the lack of interest towards her that impacted Emma deeply. Her mother was unable to provide warm interactions, stay responsive to Emma’s needs, and give her attention. love and care that she desperately needed. That deeply imprinted in Emma’s system as the sense of inadequacy, self-doubts, and fear of abandonment. 

Emma carried adult responsibilities from a young age with no one to help or even care, which also contributed to her pattern of taking care of everything and everyone around while completely her neglecting her own needs and wants. 

Once Emma processed and healed these patterns from her past, she was ready for the next stage of therapy—to build a new sense of self. 

Liberated from the patterns that held her hostage, she began creating the life she had always longed for. 

One of the most empowering changes for Emma was to realize that she has the right to have her own needs, preferences, and desires and she can stand up to them.  This was the beginning of her learning how to set boundaries. 

In the past, she would say yes to please others, fearing their disappointment. Therapy gave her the strength to honour her own needs and desires, understanding that saying no was an act of self-care and self-respect. As she practised asserting boundaries, her confidence and authenticity grew enormously. 

Her relationships underwent a profound transformation, too.  Emma no longer felt lonely; her newfound sense of safety and self-worth allowed her to trust and build authentic connections. 

Some old friends drifted away, making room for new, close, and reciprocal friendships. 

As she started to trust herself and others more, love and understanding flourished in her marriage, and her relationship with her teenage child changed for the better. 

At our last session, Emma said she feels like she has reclaimed her life, finally feeling her own worth and freedom to live on her own terms. 

Therapy unlocked her freedom to be her true self, enabling her to open up to love, joy, and fulfilment in so many aspects of her life.


Embrace the Possibilities of Therapy:

In recent years, there have been incredible advancements in the areas of neuroscience, neuropsychology, and somatic psychotherapy. We now have a much deeper understanding of how trauma affects us and effective tools to help individuals heal and recover. 

Imagine the doors to the prison of your past swinging wide open, offering you the opportunity to step into a future filled with freedom and empowerment. 

It may feel daunting to take those first steps, but therapy can be your guiding light on this transformative journey. With the support of a skilled therapist, you can embark on a path of healing and self-discovery. 

They will help you navigate the complexities of your experiences, unravel patterns that no longer serve you, and empower you to reclaim your life. 

Take that courageous step forward and embrace the possibilities that therapy holds for you. You have the potential to break free from the shackles of the past, cultivate self-compassion, and create a life aligned with your true desires. 

Remember, the power to heal and recover lies within you, and therapy is the key that can unlock your potential for growth, joy, and fulfilment. 

Trust in the process, trust in yourself, and know that you are never alone on this journey.

Ready to make the first step to unlock your own freedom and power?

Get my FREE mini-course – 3 Powerful Strategies to Overcome Childhood Toxic Stress & Trauma to Unlock Your Potential and Reclaim Your Life:


Leave a Reply