Parents Guide to Developmental Trauma

If you are a parent or caregiver dealing with an adolescent with developmental trauma disorder, it is important to examine your adolescent’s earlier life experiences to understand the root of their problems. If your adolescent experienced developmental trauma or abuse in their earlier life, they may fall under a diagnosis known as Developmental Trauma Disorder. Developmental trauma disorder is a new diagnostic category that encapsulates traditional diagnoses of complex trauma, conduct disorders and reactive attachment disorder. Developmental trauma disorder focuses more on the underlying trauma in the adolescent’s history. Developmental trauma is often accompanied by repeated traumatic events and chronic trauma.

Repeated instances of developmental trauma such as abandonment, abuse, and neglect during a child’s early life can cause negative effects on cognitive development, neurological development, and psychological development as well as attachment development. Developmental Trauma Disorder can also be linked to Reactive Attachment Disorder, a condition where a child is unable to create and sustain healthy relationships and make good life choices because they were unable to establish an early life bond with a parent or caregiver. Development trauma can also result in learning disabilities and extreme behavioral problems.  The stress from the developmental trauma can cause a child to retreat into themselves and be distrustful of others, even loving parents and well-meaning caregivers.

Residential treatment centers can teach adolescents with developmental trauma disorder how to confront and deal with the early life trauma they experienced.  Many therapies for developmental trauma disorder and attachment disorders include some level of behavioral modification. Effective treatment models for Developmental Trauma Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorders help adolescents make an internal change that will, in turn, create positive behavioral changes as opposed to creating the behavioral changes directly. The more control an adolescent has over their symptoms, the better they will be able to function.

For more information about developmental trauma disorder and residential treatment, here are some articles and a video about taking the first steps toward residential treatment.

Safe vs. Unsafe Confrontation

Going Inside Attachment

The Emotional Goal

The Healing Power of Touch

Active Listening and Acceptance

Learning Humility, Not Guilt

Parenting a Traumatized Child