When children enter the world, they need support, direction, and nurturing from parents and caregivers. These elements are required for children to navigate healthily and successfully from infancy through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. When children are exposed to trauma or provided with ineffective assistance throughout these vital formative years, they will do what is necessary to adapt, survive, and continue to grow.
While these maladaptive coping strategies may successfully get us through childhood and even early adulthood, eventually, they will impact our adult life in a way that creates unproductive and destructive behaviors.
Childhood Trauma and Mental Health
Events that occur early in life have a significant impact on the way we function. These events impact our ability to manage stress, our sense of self-worth or self-esteem, how we relate to others (including family and loved ones), and our ability to manage our emotions. Childhood trauma or developmental trauma can also lead to physical symptoms, mental health conditions, addictions, and struggles forming healthy relationships.
Today, post induction therapy is used in many treatment settings to help treat the symptoms and impacts of childhood trauma. However, to better understand how post induction therapy can help treat developmental trauma, it is critical to understand the roots and effects of trauma on the developing brain.
What is Developmental Trauma?
A healthy environment is critical to healthy development, both in utero and as infants. The fetal brain begins to form within the third week of pregnancy, and by age five, our brains reach 90% of development.¹ During this period, we must have access to safe and loving caregivers to ensure a secure environment, as all of our interactions, both positive and negative, affect our brain’s development. In a healthy environment, the brain can develop along a regular and predictable growth course and mature fully through adolescence and adulthood.
As the brain develops, it does so from the bottom up. In other words, the more basic circuits of the brain (responsible for survival functions) grow quicker. The more complex parts of the brain responsible for executive functioning are the last to mature completely. These parts of the brain help us make sense of our experiences and exercise moral judgment. The successful and functional development of the more complex parts of the brain depends significantly on the lower regions’ healthy development.²
Consistent neglect or traumatic events that pose a real or perceived threat trigger our stress responses. If these stress responses are repeatedly activated in infancy or the developing toddler, the brain’s healthy and sequential development is disturbed. In these cases, the uppermost parts of the brain develop, but the foundational components are missing.
How Does Childhood Trauma Affect Adults?
The effects of childhood (developmental) trauma do not end with the arrival of adulthood. Unfortunately, the impacts are varying, specific to the individual, and often long-lasting. According to a study focused on the biological effects of childhood trauma, “Childhood traumas, particularly those that are interpersonal, intentional, and chronic are associated with greater rates of PTSD, PTSS, depression and anxiety, antisocial behaviors and greater risk for alcohol and substance use disorders.”³
If an adult initially grew up in an environment where protection, safety, and security were lacking, they are likely to develop coping mechanisms that allow them to function each day. These individuals may often live on “eggshells” as they are accustomed to their caretakers frequently triggering stress responses. The result is excessive sensitivity to other people’s moods and interactions.
Adults who grew up in these circumstances will frequently conceal emotions such as anger, anxiety, and sadness, as the expression of these emotions has historically resulted in adverse reactions. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, there are significant connections between traumatic childhood stress and adult dysfunction including problematic substance abuse, violent behavior, mental health conditions, suicide, and chronic health conditions.⁴
Childhood trauma can also result in codependency and attachment disorders in adults. Codependency is an emotional disorder that causes one to disregard or entirely ignore their own needs while striving to fulfill others’ needs. They often forget to monitor or consider their well-being while being concerned about assisting and ensuring others’ needs are met. Codependent individuals frequently repress their own emotions to the point that they become vulnerable to painful, unsatisfying, and sometimes abusive relationships. If unaddressed, codependents may turn to coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, gambling, sex, or food to meet their needs.
What is Post Induction Therapy?
Post induction therapy is a therapeutic model developed by Pia Mellody in the 1970s. Clinicians use this approach to treat the effects of developmental trauma and the resulting immaturity and dependencies that result from childhood traumatic events. Therefore, this form of therapy can help adolescents and many adults heal the underlying trauma that happens to be at the root of many mental health and behavioral conditions that occur due to chronic or significant childhood trauma.
Post induction therapy (PIT) utilizes the benefits of both individual and group therapy settings and techniques. PIT also draws upon several different psychoanalytic therapy models to help therapists with the most extensive assortment of “tools” to help their patients. PIT therapists can call upon family systems therapy, Gestalt therapy, person-centered humanistic therapy, and several other forms of treatment as needed.
As trauma-informed therapies have grown in popularity and necessity in recent years, post induction therapy has emerged as a popular treatment approach for mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders related to developmental trauma.
How Does Post Induction Therapy Help Treat Childhood Trauma?
Post induction therapy strategies originate from applying various techniques developed to treat the effects of childhood trauma specifically. Central to the approach is that those dealing with codependent traits related to trauma require healing from the trauma inflicted during infancy and childhood. Recovery from codependence requires addressing the toxic emotions left over from painful and traumatic childhood experiences. Those struggling with codependence can learn to manage the adult symptoms stemming from childhood events with work and time.
Post induction therapy helps heal the effects of developmental trauma by encouraging patients to examine and identify codependent thinking. It also promotes processing and healthily regulating codependent behaviors and emotions to avoid further propagating codependent thoughts and behaviors.
PIT helps adults heal by addressing the trauma and adversity that occurred during childhood, which are believed to be the root causes of codependent behaviors and many adult attachment disorders. By addressing past experiences and events, post induction therapy can help encourage healthy coping strategies. These strategies can be used in place of unsafe and unhealthy coping mechanisms that have been forged over the years due to trauma.
Healthy coping reduces the incidence of other mental and physical health difficulties related to substance use, unsafe sexual behaviors, unhealthy relationship patterns, and new or worsening co-occurring mental health conditions.
Healing From Childhood Trauma
Developmental trauma often has lasting and detrimental impacts that persist throughout adolescence into adulthood. Seeking treatment for traumatic events from one’s childhood can be challenging; it is common to struggle with how childhood events relate to adulthood behaviors and situations, even for adults who have subconsciously suppressed the memory of these events. Many adults may not realize they struggle with codependent behaviors or understand how those behaviors adversely affect their day-to-day lives.
At All Points North Lodge, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive, evidence-based, and individualized care for each person who walks through our doors. We offer a wide variety of client-centered treatment modalities to ensure the broadest range of treatment options.
Trauma-informed care is at the root of all of our healing therapies to ensure we address each client’s symptoms and their root causes. If you would like to learn more about how All Points North Lodge integrates comprehensive treatment with luxurious amenities and experiential therapy to ensure each client’s unique needs are met, reach out to our admissions team today. Our caring and compassionate support agents can be reached by phone at 855-510-4585 or you can contact us via to get started.
- “Brain Development.” Why Early Childhood Matters, First Things First, 16 Sept. 2019, https://www.firstthingsfirst.org/early-childhood-matters/brain-development/.
- Stiles, Joan, and Terry L Jernigan. “The basics of brain development.” Neuropsychology review vol. 20,4 (2010): 327-48. doi:10.1007/s11065-010-9148-4
- De Bellis, Michael D, and Abigail Zisk. “The biological effects of childhood trauma.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America vol. 23,2 (2014): 185-222, vii. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2014.01.002
- “Trauma and Substance Abuse.” The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 25 May 2018, https://www.nctsn.org/what-is-child-trauma/populations-at-risk/trauma-and-substance-abuse.