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Identifying and Regulating Emotions After Experiencing Childhood Trauma

Emotions after experiencing childhood trauma

Emotions play a very significant role in how we experience life, create relationships and form our individuality. Our emotions impact how we respond to certain situations or experiences, and in today’s social world, we can simply send a picture, or “emoji”, through a text message or a social media post to share how we feel.

While these one-dimensional images offer a fast, fun way to convey what we’re feeling, emotions are much more complex than what a simple happy or sad face can communicate. Emotional reactions to the world around us can be felt throughout the entire body and impact various systems within the body. Traumatic experiences such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence or other life-altering events during childhood can cause the brain to become hard-wired to emotionally over-react to the environment. In extreme circumstances, survival instincts such as flight/fight/freeze are initiated, even in relatively low-stress situations. Our brains constantly have to balance between emotions and other brain functions such as focus, problem-solving and making decisions. When emotions outweigh other brain functions, the consequences can impact every aspect of life. Understanding how our emotions work, identifying emotions and learning to manage emotions is key to day-to-day wellbeing. One important skill, called regulation, can be taught and strengthened.

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The good news is that the brain develops long into adulthood and can learn in new environments. KVC designed its own Emotion Regulation Development Tools using evidence-based and best practice approaches to build children’s capacity to cope with difficult emotions. The tools are designed to help children learn self-regulation, new coping strategies, and emotion-focused problem-solving skills. By teaching emotional regulation to youth at our psychiatric hospitals, we can help them learn and practice how to control their own responses to their environment or situation.

Learn more about our trauma-informed treatments here. KVC has also provided training to other organizations, such as other psychiatric treatment programs and community partners, so their staff can help the clients they serve. Learn more about our consultation and training services.

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