Healing from trauma, especially one linked to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), can be painful, scary, and potentially re-traumatizing. That’s why the trauma recovery journey is best undertaken with the help of a professional and experienced trauma specialist.
As the importance of understanding and addressing ACEs (as part of trauma recovery) gains prominence, a novel player is emerging on the mental health stage – the Registered Nurse Psychotherapists or RN Psychotherapists. These professionals understand both integrated (behavioural and physical healthcare) and integrative (whole-person) approaches to trauma recovery. Such a comprehensive approach is relevant and effective considering the lifelong impact of ACE on physical and mental health.
The RN Psychotherapist plays a crucial role in the healing and trauma recovery process, offering not only therapeutic expertise but also a compassionate understanding of the physiological and emotional aspects of traumas encountered in childhood. Their unique combination of medical and psychological expertise empowers both children and adults with ACEs to navigate the complex path of healing with resilience and support.
ACEs Negatively Impact Adult Mental Health
With psychotherapeutic intervention, the multiple and layered impacts of ACEs can extend beyond childhood, and sometimes last a lifetime. Research has established a link between childhood traumatic experiences and vulnerability to physical health problems and mental health issues in adulthood. For example, a recent study found that people with an ACE score of 4 or higher were;
- 11.1 times more likely to become intravenous drug users (IVDU)
- 3.6 times more likely to develop depression
- 2.4 times more likely to experience persistent anxiety
- 2.5 times more likely to experience panic reactions
Another study showed that adults with higher ACE scores have a shorter life expectancy than the general population. ACEs often lay the foundation for impaired brain development and further contributes to various mental health disorders, social instability, and risky behaviors – all of which can result in a higher risk of early death. Individuals with the greatest lifetime exposure to ACEs are more likely to die of the health conditions and complications related to alcoholism, suicide, drug and substance abuse, etc.
Sure, life is full of common stressors like bad traffic, long queues, new jobs, frustrating coworkers, financial challenges, and more. A healthy adult can handle these stressors. However, a recent study warns that adults with a high ACE score often have their body’s stress response stuck in overdrive and sometimes unable to control it.
As a result of this physiological strain, these individuals have a higher risk of developing chronic illnesses such as liver disease, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Research warns that this correlation may be partially due to chronic stress on the patient’s developing brain during their childhood.
The need for Trauma-Informed Care
Let’s face the reality – ACEs are prevalent across all demographics. 61.6% of the individuals who participated in a recent study reported exposure to an ACE. 25% of the 44,817 participants reported exposure to physical abuse, 22.4% reported partner violence, and 21.8% reported emotional abuse.
Despite the widespread prevalence of ACEs, the existing healthcare model often falls short in addressing the root causes of trauma and chronic diseases. A trans-diagnostic approach is crucial as it can reveal the hidden determinants of mental and physical health issues. RN psychotherapists, with their holistic perspective, excel in implementing this approach. Indeed, they can bridge the gap and provide comprehensive trauma recovery and care that goes beyond symptom management.
The Role of RN Psychotherapists
RN psychotherapists have a pivotal role in treating ACEs and trauma responses including depression, anxiety, PTSD, relationship difficulties, rage and tendencies towards violence, attachment issues, self and social awareness challenges. They delve into patients’ childhoods to unravel the roots of trauma. By connecting deeply with patients and addressing ACE patterns, they empower them to navigate the complexities of their past. Most importantly they use a variety of proven psychotherapeutic techniques to heal the traumatic wounds. RN Psychotherapists have a natural gift for supporting their clients in boosting their emotional intelligence, resilience and strength.
Such a therapeutic journey propels patients toward dynamic personal growth to unlock their creativity and productivity. RN psychotherapists guide individuals to break free from the constraints of ACEs. This enables them to emerge as powerful, self-aware individuals. This transformative approach not only heals past wounds but also equips patients to lead fulfilling, purpose-driven lives, transcending the impact of childhood adversity on their adult experiences.
To delve deeper into this important profession, discover more in my recent article: How To Become An RN Psychotherapist.