Adverse Childhood Events
Psychologist, Gestalt Psychotherapist
Perth, Western Australia
Adverse childhood events (ACEs) can include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction, such as parental separation or divorce, substance abuse, or mental illness. Adverse family relationships refer to negative interactions between family members, including verbal, emotional, or physical abuse, neglect, or a lack of emotional support.
ACEs and adverse family relationships can have long-lasting effects on an individual's mental and physical health. Research has shown an increased likelihood of poor health outcomes, such as chronic diseases, depression, anxiety, and a greater risk of experiencing trauma later in life.
While some individuals who experience ACEs or adverse family relationships may develop resilience and coping mechanisms that allow them to manage their symptoms, others may develop complex trauma. ACEs can lead to complex trauma when an individual experiences repeated or prolonged exposure to trauma, particularly during critical periods of development, such as childhood. The effects of ACEs can be cumulative, meaning that each subsequent ACE can increase an individual's risk of experiencing complex trauma.
The ways in which ACEs and adverse family relationships can lead to complex trauma include:
- By impacting an individual's sense of safety and security. Children who experience abuse or neglect may have difficulty trusting others or feel unsafe in their own homes. This can lead to hypervigilance, a state of constant alertness or heightened arousal, and difficulties in regulating emotions. Individuals who experience ACEs may also struggle with dissociation, a state of disconnection from one's thoughts, feelings, or surroundings, which can be a coping mechanism in response to trauma.
- May struggle to form healthy relationships with others later in life, leading to difficulties in forming and maintaining social connections.
- By impacting an individual's sense of self-worth. Verbal or emotional abuse, for example, can lead to negative beliefs about oneself, such as feeling unworthy or unlovable. These negative beliefs can persist into adulthood and impact an individual's ability to form healthy relationships.
- By impacting an individual's ability to regulate emotions. Children who experience abuse or neglect may not have learned healthy ways of expressing or coping with their emotions, leading to difficulties in regulating emotions later in life. This can manifest in symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or difficulties in forming healthy attachments with others.
ACEs and adverse family relationships can also lead to the intergenerational transmission of trauma, where trauma is passed down from one generation to the next. Children who experience trauma may struggle to form healthy relationships or struggle to parent their own children well, leading to negative outcomes for the next generation.
Contact Bernadette if you would like further information, assessment or to discuss treatment options.
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Phone: 0417 777 230
Mount Lawley Counselling Centre
13 Alvan Street
Mt Lawley (Perth), WA 6050