If you’re wondering whether adverse childhood experiences are negatively impacting you as an adult, you probably already know the answer.
In my work as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist most of my clients are mature adults experiencing issues rooted in anger, Anxiety, depression – or a mixture of these. Often, they are wondering if their present issues are linked to their adverse childhood experiences. More often than not, the answer is yes.
Since the end of the last century, research has led to a greater understanding of how adverse childhood experiences impact on long term wellbeing – both physical and psychological. The key findings are:
Childhood trauma is very common: even in so-called well-to-do areas.
There is a direct link between childhood trauma and chronic disease in adulthood.
Those who experience childhood trauma often experience more than one type of trauma.
The more types of trauma a child experiences, the greater the risk of them experiencing medical, social and emotional problems as adults.
What is your Adverse Childhood Experiences score?
You can calculate your own ACEs score by responding to the following questions. Give yourself 1 point for each question where you experienced that category of trauma before your eighteenth birthday.
1. Emotional abuse: Did a parent or other adult often or very often insult, demean, belittle, humiliate, verbally assault, or threaten to physically assault You?
2. Physical abuse: Did a parent or other adult often or very often grab, slap, push, or hit You?
3. Sexual abuse: Did a parent, adult, or someone at least five years older than you ever touch your body in a sexual way or attempt or have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with You?
4. Emotional neglect: Did You often or very often feel that no one in your family loved you or thought you were important; or your family did not look out for each other, feel close to each other, and support each other?
5. Physical neglect: Did You often not have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, had no one to attend to your medical and dental needs, or had no one to protect you?
6. Loss of parent: Were your parents separated or divorced, or did you lose a parent for any reason?
7. Domestic violence: Did You often or very often witness or hear violence between your parents or other adults where someone was being grabbed, shoved, slapped, hit, kicked, had something thrown a them, sexually attacked, or threatened with a weapon?
8. Family member with addiction: Did You live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, who used illicit drugs, or who was addicted to any other substances?
9. Family member with depression/mental illness: Did you live with anyone who was depressed or mentally ill, attempted or committed self-harm and/or suicide, or hospitalized for mental illness?
10. Family member incarcerated: Did you live with anyone who went to prison?
Your Adverse Childhood Experiences Score (0-10) =
As ACE scores increase, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of four or more, things start getting serious. While studies in different locations return slightly different results, the figures suggest around 11% of the population have experienced four or more adverse childhood experiences.
Fortunately, brains and lives are somewhat plastic. Resilience research shows that the appropriate integration of resilience factors — such as asking for help, developing trusting relationships, forming a positive attitude, listening to feelings — can help people improve their lives. Research in to post traumatic growth has identified five broad areas of growth:
Increased personal agency
Greater appreciation of life
Creating new possibilities in life
Building closer relationships with others
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