Developmental Trauma


  • Do you struggle in relationships?
  • Do emotions often derail you?
  • Do you struggle to “act your age?”
  • Do you jump when touched or you hear a sudden noise?
  • Does Independence feel impossible?
  • Do you feel numb, helpless, guilty, anxious, or ashamed?
  • Do you get stuck in self-hatred or self blame?
  • Do you avoid reminders of that time in your life?
  • Do you chronically feel ineffective?
  • Do you have problems with sleep, food, and self-care?
  • Do you have multiple somatic problems – e.g. GI issues, migraines, pain?
  • Do you lack awareness of danger? Or expect danger too often?

You are not alone!  I am here to HELP!

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may be struggling with aftermath of developmental trauma. While it can seem like an impossible path to feel better, and you have probably tried many times before, there are effective approaches in therapy to get you relief.

What is Developmental Trauma?

Developmental Trauma is frequently referred to an attachment trauma or relational trauma. It happens when a child perceives a threat to their safety, security, or care-giver relationships. This can happen even when parents are doing the very best they can, because sometimes life just happens. Most people think of child abuse and neglect as the main forms of developmental trauma. Also, growing up in a household where the adults cannot attune to the child’s emotional state, not seeing them as who they truly are, can also shift naturally the childhood development into a survival style.

Developmental Trauma happens on a spectrum of severity, all of which lead to very real impacts on your adult life. Someone may have “had it worse” than you and your experiences may be very common or even “normal.” But that does not mean your life and ability to develop healthy interdependent relationships wasn’t impacted. Regardless of how you got here or how well intentioned your caregivers were, if you are struggling now, you are worthy of help!

Long after the situations which lead us to where we are now have passed, our body and nervous system may continue to function as if it is still ongoing. Basically, our body remains on guard for danger or attempts to sustain fight, flight, or freeze mode. People respond to trauma in many ways, so they may be impacted by trauma even if they do not meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Treatment in the form of therapy can help restore the nervous system for real healing, and it can build resilience in our nervous system, emotions, and life functioning.

With developmental trauma, we also relearn how to identify and create safe relationships. We uncover our inner knowing, our instincts, around our boundaries, our voice, and our identity.

Many times Developmental Trauma symptoms present themselves in unexpected ways.  It can show up as depression or anxiety, a feeling of unease, difficulty in relationships or even somatic (bodily) symptoms such as chronic pain or irritable bowel syndrome.

Here are some common ways that trauma symptoms show up in every day life:

  • Connection is both your deepest desire and greatest fear
  • Dullness, a feeling of disconnection
  • Poor boundaries
  • Difficulty with decision making
  • Anxiety
  • Guilty thoughts and feelings
  • Fear of others
  • Difficulty letting the memories fade from an incident
  • Controlling in relationships
  • Difficulty knowing or asking for what you want
  • Self sabotage patterns
  • Un-managed empathy
  • Perfectionism

“But, I tried counseling before and it was not helpful.”

Not all therapy and counseling methods are created for developmental trauma, many in fact do not consider it as a factor at all. Research shows the most import aspect of effective therapy is the fit between you and your therapist. Then we need a therapy approach/skill set that suits your path towards healing. The experience must be palatable enough for you to actually participate. And of course, it helps if the therapist has a theoretical and real world clinical understanding of what you are bringing to counseling and how to help.

“But, the idea of talking about my childhood sounds overwhelming and terrifying!”

Fortunately my approach to developmental trauma treatment focuses on your adult life, what is happening now. The features of your upbringing that are affecting you and motivating you to seek treatment are already showing up in your thoughts, feelings, body, and relationships. Most of what we need you already walking around with everyday. We’ll just access it in a therapeutic manner with a healing focus.

“What does therapy for Developmental Trauma look like?”

I love the term, “Healing Informed Care.” Yes, trauma informed care is in the background of what I do every day, but in session we do not lose sight of the purpose of your therapy: To Heal! My approach is gentle, respectful, and not pathological. We are not here to blame your parents or shame you for turning out as you are.

You get to consent to each step of the way, which in itself is a very healing part of the process. Kids rarely get to access their agency. Their choices are frequently overridden and the voices neither hear nor honored. As an adult in therapy, it is crucial that you have a corrective experience.

We focus on how developmental trauma is impacting your current life in the here and now. With insight, we recognize how your childhood may have brought you here. Together we hypothesize your “survival style,” meaning we see how the ways your learned to survive and feel safe growing up shaped how you are thinking, feeling, and relating now. This approach is mindfulness based, grounded in solid psychotherapy methods, and specifically developed to treat developmental trauma.

“There are hundreds of therapists in town, why should I choose you?”
This is a great question! There are several things that set me apart from other therapists.

  • I have extensive postgraduate education, clinical experience, and first hand experience specifically addressing how to treat the impacts of developmental trauma effectively and respectfully. I have nearly completed the 120-hour post-graduate training program to earn the title of NeuroAffective Relational Model Therapist.

  • I help each client as a whole person, not just a victim of an overwhelming or invisible childhood. Every person who has survived trauma has their own set of life experiences, family dynamics, strengths, and possible co-occurring disorders. I see and work with the big picture of your wellness.

  • My clients tell me that they can tell that I truly care to understand what they are experiencing and describe me as safe, empathic, informed, and non-judgmental.

  • I provide a safe and accepting environment for discussing traumatic issues regardless of sexual-orientation, gender, culture or spiritual focus.

  • I offer a 20-minute consultation at no charge so you can see how you feel and whether you think we are a good match for one another. If you do not feel like we are a good fit for any reason, I will gladly refer you to another therapist who might be a better match for you so you can get the help you are seeking.

If you feel that you may have been impacted by Developmental Trauma, please contact me today so I may help.