Trauma and Attachment Clinic

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Beacon House offers a specialist trauma and attachment service for children and adults who have been through stressful and frightening events.

Our trauma therapists come with extensive experience of working sensitively and effectively with individuals who have been traumatized through their life experiences, and we draw on a range of evidence-based treatments.

There are two forms of trauma that can affect us. The first is known as ‘Simple’ post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a certain collection of symptoms that often develop following a one off incident, such as a road traffic accident, a natural disaster or a sexual assault. PTSD can have a huge impact on an individual’s life and relationships. The symptoms of PTSD can feel very strange and can often make individuals feel as if they have gone ‘crazy’; but in fact, these are very normal reactions to abnormal events. PTSD can be treated very effectively using either EMDR or trauma-focussed CBT.

In our experience, once the core symptoms of PTSD have been addressed, the individual is able to move forward to a deeper and more profound life meaning having survived such an extreme event which has given them the gift of a new perspective.

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The second form of trauma is known as ‘Complex PTSD’ or ‘Complex Trauma’. In children this is known as ‘Developmental Trauma’. Complex PTSD often develops after the individual has suffered repeated, severe, interpersonal trauma such as sexual, emotional and physical abuse; neglect during childhood; repeated loss and abandonment; domestic abuse, community violence or being held hostage for a prolonged period of time. Complex PTSD has a profound and long-lasting impact on the individual’s well-being and development as a whole person.

While Complex PTSD looks a little different in children compared with adults, there are some broad difficulties which are common regardless of age. The mind and body automatically find ways to survive intimate trauma, and everyone subjected to repeated trauma will find ways to protect themselves from further trauma. We also know that repeated trauma of a personal nature can affect how our brain develops, and so it is much harder for chronically traumatized children and adults to manage relationships, emotions and behaviours in healthy ways.

The problems associated with Complex PTSD can be seen as the person’s best possible ways of surviving a world which can feel extremely threatening.

Both children and adults with Complex PTSD often struggle in the following ways:

  • Problems in regulating their feelings and actions – leading to extreme emotional highs and lows and self-destructive behaviours to cope with daily life.
  • Difficulties processing sensory experiences and regulating the body.
  • Difficulties in memory and making sense of themselves – leaving the person with a poor or fragmented sense of identity, memory gaps and a confused ‘life story’
  • Trusting others feels frightening – making stable, caring, intimate relationships hard to tolerate.
  • Experiencing a long-lasting negative self-image which often includes feelings of guilt, shame, badness and being ‘flawed’ beyond repair.
  • A sense of being responsible or deserving of the abuse that has taken place.
  • Body complaints which are often medically unexplained – the body remembers trauma which sometimes our minds try hard to forget.

Treatment for Complex PTSD takes time, and often needs a combination of therapies and sometimes a team approach. Our experience is that with hope and the right therapeutic support, individuals with Complex PTSD can discover the person who they would like to be.

You can find more information about our Child and Family Trauma Clinic and our Adult Trauma Clinic.

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