Most Treatments for Childhood PTSD Don’t Work. Here’s What Does.

If you are one of the millions of adults who grew up affected by traumatic experiences during your childhood, you may have tried therapies that promised to help you calm your emotions, change your thinking, and respond to stress like normal people do.

But chances are, you’re still affected by past trauma. Things like abuse, neglect, and exposure to parental addiction can and do impact the brain and nervous system. This in turn can  can trigger problems ranging from ADHD to depression to addiction to diabetes to an inability to form lasting relationships. 

Childhood PTSD is a bad thing. And there is no shortage of specialists and therapies that promise to heal the problems caused by early trauma: Cognitive behavior therapy. EMDR. Neurofeedback. Yoga. Meditation. Exposure therapy. Anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. MDMA. Cannabis. Psilocybin. Dialectical behavior therapy. Tapping, Somatic experiencing, Feldenkrais, Craniosacral therapy. Art therapy. Dance Therapy. Drama therapy. Dream therapy. Equine therapy. Nutritional therapy, and on and on and on.

As you probably have discovered, not all treatments are equal. In fact with most treatments, there is no consistent pattern of effectiveness. Something may have helped you but won’t help others. Some treatments have a temporary benefit but leave you worse off than before you started.

So what does work? The answers might surprise you.

For a deeper dive into all the symptoms of Childhood PTSD — how they happen, and what to do, take my online course Healing Childhood PTSD

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3 thoughts on “Most Treatments for Childhood PTSD Don’t Work. Here’s What Does.”

  1. Hi Anna. Although I was originally a psychoanalyst, I now treat childhood trauma with predominantly a combination of AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy) and IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy)–two highly effective experiential methods. I agree with you that medication doesn’t treat the underlying cause and in cases where the depression is shame-based, it doesn’t work at all (https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/10/its-not-always-depression/). Without addressing the underlying emotions as they are felt in the body and working with child parts, it is virtually impossible to regulate a dysregulated nervous system. You might find my blog and book that I wrote for the public on childhood trauma and emotions a resource. It’s called “It’s Not Always Depression.” Thank you for all the work you are doing to help people who suffer from the symptoms of traumatic childhoods. Warmly, Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW

  2. Excellent overview! I would like to offer an example of the effective use of EMDR for healing complex trauma/childhood PTSD including dissociation. It is a complex process but incredibly effective.
    BRAVE:A personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma Janyne Mcconnaughey, PH.D.

  3. Stephanie D Wells

    Anna have you heard of “Schema Therapy”? I saw an LCSW for a long time. He used a combination of what he called Schema Therapy and “Reparenting” therapy.

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