In therapy, there are a few different approaches, and sometimes you can deal with an immediate problem at hand without a huge delve into the past. But when you want to more permanently solve a problem, typically, unearthing the cause is necessary. (Disclaimer: it should be said that as a client, you should only undertake to do so with someone you trust and feel completely safe with).
Do the trauma's we experience in childhood actually follow us through adulthood? What qualifies as trauma? What one person of one generation would call a "tough" childhood, we might now call "traumatic". And when it comes to preventative health care - including mental AND physical health - that is a pretty significant distinction.
Education is everything. Knowledge is power. There can be so much freedom and progress in understanding why.
This TED talk reviews the original ACE's Study, its groundbreaking results and encourages all health care practitioners to screen for childhood trauma and how to name those events that shape our length of our lives. Nadine Burke Harris does a great job describing the study, why its important for health care practitioners in particular to think about changing their practices.
I just finished reading Breaking Away, a memoir of NHL player Patrick O'Sullivan's devastating childhood experience at the hands of his abusive father. I could not put in down. Patrick tells his story in a way that any person who has experienced childhood abuse will instantly recognize: extreme isolation from community, not understanding why others did not help him, being emotionally isolated, being ashamed of the abuse and intuitively knowing to limit the amount you tell others for fear they would be too overwhelmed. Patrick's experience goes one step further in that he also went back to confront the bystanders. I would recommend it to anyone who has experienced childhood abuse, if only to crack the isolation of that experience.
And today, the deeply sad story of harrowing abuse unfolds in Toronto courtrooms as Melonie Biddersingh's father stands accused of extreme abuse and ultimately her murder. Journalist Rosie DiManno's statement in this story, "To the death roll of Randal Dooley and Jeffrey Baldwin, children starved to death and grotesquely mistreated while alive, right in our midst, add now the name of this 17-year-old who lived and died with nobody taking notice" demands that we start paying attention to each other.
The more we understand about what constitutes "trauma", the better choices we'll make, the more we'll know about what to call it when we see it, when to tell someone, when to ask for help, and how to move forward.
For more information, check out Ontario's Association of Children's Aid Societies: http://www.oacas.org, or speak to a trusted friend, counsellor, therapist, clergy person.