Childhood trauma occurs when a child experiences an event or events that cause distress or emotional pain, often resulting in physical and mental effects that may extend into later adult life. Also referred to as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), childhood trauma has both psychological and physical impacts, resulting from experiences that extend from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, to neglect, to witnessing traumatic events such as domestic abuse, violence, war, and natural disasters.

Childhood trauma criteria involve both the experience itself and the child’s response to the experience – where the child is overwhelmed by feelings such as fear and helplessness. Traumatic experiences have been classified as simple or complex trauma by the Australia Childhood Foundation (2010).

Simple trauma arises from isolated life-threatening events such as accidents, illnesses, or war. Complex trauma results from ongoing incidents or threats of abuse or violence, whether the child is directly affected or witnesses the behaviour.

Traumatic childhood experiences cause levels of stress that affect the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems. In addition to adverse health outcomes such as autoimmune diseases and premature death, sufferers of childhood trauma may suffer as adults from anxiety, depression, addictive behaviours, PTSD symptoms, and other harmful mental health problems. Childhood trauma also leads to a dramatic increase in suicidal behaviours among both children/adolescents and adults.


Symptoms of childhood trauma may be present from childhood onwards or may be triggered later in life by another traumatic experience.

Symptoms of childhood trauma can differ according to the age of the child affected. Some symptoms that may indicate a child is suffering trauma include:

  • Unreasonable outbursts of anger/rage
  • Notable changes in eating habits
  • Changes in sleeping habits, nightmares
  • Strong startle reactions
  • Unusually fearful behaviour
  • Slow development

Some children may have minimal symptoms and may recover more quickly from their experiences. Others can experience a significant impact, with long-lasting problems that extend well into adulthood.

Adult symptoms of childhood trauma include the following:

  • Mood swings
  • Tendency to overreact
  • Problems with handling stress
  • Problems concentrating
  • Chronic depression or anxiety
  • Substance abuse, addictive behaviours
  • Self-harm behaviours
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Trust issues
  • A belief that the world is dangerous
  • Unfounded feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Low confidence and self-esteem
  • Difficulties maintaining good relationships
  • Feelings of numbness and depersonalization
  • Poor sense of identity


It is difficult to reliably estimate levels of childhood trauma sufferers, because of methodological challenges, limitations on the data available regarding rates of child mistreatment generally, and the difficulty of assessment of risk factors for the childhood experience of trauma. Despite this, available evidence indicates that it occurs to a significant level in Australia, although the extent of it may go unrecognised by the society at large.


Childhood trauma can be caused by a wide range of experiences at a young age, from witnessing violence and other traumatic events to the impact of the actions or inaction of a caregiver.

Childhood trauma may be caused by the following experiences:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
  • Neglect or abandonment.
  • Having emotional or physical needs that are not met by caregivers.
  • Environmental factors such as parental separation/divorce/death/imprisonment, mental illness of family members, witnessing domestic violence, substance abuse, living in circumstances of poverty.
  • Experiences of being exposed to violence within or outside the home.
  • Stress resulting from medical procedures, accidents, natural disasters, war and civil unrest.

These experiences can have a profound experience on mental and physical health even many decades later, and may also impact the health of subsequent generations, whether through parental behaviour or epigenetic inheritance.


At Brain Training Australia™ we offer Psychological Counselling for clients opting for a safe, natural and drug-free approach for those suffering from childhood related trauma. We recognise that some people need medication, some need therpay and some may need a blend of both. We are here for you when you are ready.

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The team at Brain Training Australia™ recognise the unique qualities of all our clients and will work closely with you to personalise your Brain Training Program so that you can achieve your goals of optimal mental processes.

We look forward to helping you live a much richer, happier and healthier life.