Counseling Child therapy Trauma Phoenix Arizona



Neuroimaging of children who have had adverse challenging childhood experiences such as : divorce, emotional, sexual, physical abuse, neglect, bullying, parents with alcohol issues, and other huge stressors like grief and loss and more show changes in the brain. The brain areas that are responsible for: memory, learning, and emotions are impacted by childhood stressor and trauma.


For children learning resilience means learning coping skills that can increase their ability to manage and regulate their emotions and deal with stress in healthy ways.



Healthy secure children are able to express negative emotions and not keep them inside. Insecure children tend to avoid feelings and struggle to express their real true emotions and feelings.


Parents with depression, anxiety or substance abuse may be unavailable for their children and can not provide the emotional support or presence needed for the children.


Children can experience trauma in many ways and not just at home. Trauma can occur at school, through terror, TV, Violence, emotional abuse, physical abuse, neglect, divorce, battered mom, emotional abuse, neglect, mental illness in the home , substance use or abuse in the home, incarcerated family members ,and more.


Parents can learn tips to manage their stressors in life because their ability to manage their mood will impact their children for better or for worse. Children must feel safe and secure and loved and cared for in order to create a balanced and healthy child. Yelling and screaming can trigger trauma responses so tone is very important to your child psychologically.


Childhood trauma is widespread and can happen through grief and loss, changing schools, moving, divorce, abuse, bullying and more and we must be aware that is not just from physical abuse or sexual abuse.


Some symptoms of childhood trauma include but are not limited to: anxiety, depression,ADHD , substance abuse, eating disorders, behavioral problems, emotional mood regulation issues, anger, and much more. Creating compassion for youth and support systems is important not judging or labeling a child this will not help and many times create a negative stigma for the child.


Adverse childhood experiences : divorce, emotional neglect, bullying, grief and loss, violence at home are shown to happen in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler and valley in wide in two out of three children.

There is a huge link between Family stress and the family system and toxic stress that will impact your child’s brain, development, and emotional and physical health.

Many children and teens suffer childhood trauma. Trauma can be from : emotional abuse , physical abuse, sexual abuse, divorce, grief, loss, health issues, family issues and more.

There has ben a great deal of research on the brain and trauma from PTSD for soldiers to childhood neglect and abuse. the latest research shows how important it is to address the trauma instead of avoiding it, stuffing it, acting as if nothing happened. In fact ignoring the trauma is the worst thing a child or an adult can do according to researchers on trauma and the brain.

Children and teens that were exposed to therapy that addressed these traumas show an 80% decrease on average in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Syndrome symptoms. Children and teens that addressed trauma were less depressed and less anxious and were able to function much better in all areas of their lives. Not addressing the past trauma in children and teen adolescents allows the trauma to fester in the brain and this will potentially ooze into unhealthy habits, behaviors, and mental health issues. Many reach for medications to alleviate pain, many start using illegal substances to numb out or cope with their past pain.

Children and teens that can express their trauma can build a strong sense of confidence that they can handle the most painful events. They can build their self esteem. They can learn that they can cope with life’s pain and still have a happy, healthy, and balanced life. It is a relief to release this heavy pain that the child or teen carries around like a 1000 pound weight squeezing their mind and body and soul.

One big piece of dealing with the trauma is also that children become aware that they are not truly safe and that the trauma is in their past and is no longer carried with them today in the present moment. Releasing these traumas take some time however letting go of it and processing the abuse and trauma and pain is the biggest piece in healing the brain and finding health and balance in one’s life physically, mentally and emotionally.

The research has been published in medical journals and has been done at many ivy league schools in the USA.

Arizona children and teens experience more trauma than those in other states and that those experiences put them at greater risk for health problems later in life.

At least one third of all children in Arizona have been exposed to adverse childhood experiences compared to approximately 20 percent in others states in the United States.

Adverse childhood experiences include living with someone who is mentally ill ,or suicidal; experiencing divorce or parental separation; living with someone who has an alcohol or drug problem; being a victim or witness of neighborhood violence; experiencing financial hardship; witnessing violence; having a parent in prison or incarcerated ,being treated or judged unfairly due to race or ethnicity ( racism/sexism etc); and experiencing the death of a parent ( grief and loss)

Teenagers and children who have experienced an adverse event are about twice as likely to engage in bullying behavior and the propensity to bully others goes up by 30 percent with each additional event of being victimized.

Teens 13-17 in Arizona have been exposed to forty four percent adverse events that are traumatic.

Children that have these experiences are more likely to have mental health issues, health problems, academic issues, obesity, and struggle in life.

Strong evidence showed that individual and group cognitive–behavioral therapy can decrease psychological harm among symptomatic children and adolescents exposed to trauma.

Recovery from childhood trauma involves owning the experiences we have disowned. It includes owning parts of ourselves that we continue to want to push away. This is a painful process because it means that we will need to embrace painful realities. Everything in us (and often around us) tells us that this is not the right path to take. But it is always truth, no matter how painful, that frees us. Embracing our life experiences and their ongoing impact on us is the path to freedom and wholeness.

Learning to not allow unhealthy defense mechanisms and behaviors from the past that helped shield you from pain and taking control of your unhealthy habits is vital for healing and balance. Looking at the ways you avoid feelings and how you cope with pain is also essential. Accepting the fact that you were not at fault and you can cope with your pain in a healthy way and that you are strong and can handle it is also important.

Grief and trauma in youth

Grief is a mixture of feelings : anger , guilt, frustration, fear , anxiety , when dealing with loss. Losing a loved one, family member, dog , cat are all areas that connect with grief . A parent that is not involved in a child’s life is a great source for grief and loss.

Children and teens may not be able to verbalize they are grieving however here are some symptoms that can show signs of grief: anger, irritability, lack of focus , anxiety, sadness, drug or alcohol abuse, self destructive behaviors , somatic problems ( headache , stomach pain, fatigue and more), promiscuity , addictive behaviors like being too busy ( blocking pain), decline in academic performance or lack of motivation , confusion, feeling alone , jealousy, constant thoughts of the loss, shock, numbness and more.

Children and adolescent teenagers can learn ways to identify feelings and express them in safe and healthy ways.

Parents need an objective professional that has expertise working with children , teens and families to help work through grief and loss.

Lifeworksaz has an advanced graduate specialty in Trauma and has worked with: children, teens, adults and families to create balance in one’s life. David Abrams has a specialty working with children and families for over fifteen years.


Articles are not to be taken as a substitute for professional advice or counseling.