Research-based Recovery Information*
for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse and Adversity

Picture of the city of Dunedin, New Zealand

“No one knows how many people with severe mental illness live what appear to be normal, successful lives, because such people are not in the habit of announcing themselves. They are too busy juggling responsibilities, paying the bills, studying, raising families – all while weathering gusts of dark emotions or delusions that would quickly overwhelm almost anyone else.” Marsha Linehan, Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Fight, New York Times: 6/24/2011

Preview the new-look website -- send me your comments! [LINK]

Purpose of this Site

If you're recovering from childhood interpersonal trauma, you are not alone. A prominent American researcher, Dr Bessel van der Kolk, psychiatrist, has identified such trauma as the number one public health problem (see this page [LINK] on prevalence of childhood abuse). He has led a movement to have a diagnosis for chidren -- Developmental Trauma Disorder [LINK] -- introduced to assist in the improvement of services for children with this disorder. A recent article (Schmid et al (2013) [LINK]) discusses some of the Pros and Cons of this disorder's being introduced -- also see my Blog Post here [LINK].

The results of childhood interpersonal abuse can be profound, especially when one doesn't understand what these effects can be. Some, and I do restrict this to some, may benefit from the "intellectual insight" available through this website. Sadly that will NOT take the place of the hard personal, and interpersonal, work needed to recover from such trauma. I offer this site only as a starting point for those wishing to start on the journey, or to return to the journey, of recovering from trauma. It is my hope, I pray, that you will be able to share this journey with someone with spirit, with soul, someone not afraid of themselves, someone not hiding their person behind some mask of "professionalism". I pray that you will be able to recover some aspect of your "healthy child" along the journey, and that you will have the guidance and security of your own adult healthy sale to keep you safe from all violations of your spirit that will come. That is your right. It is my hope that you will find that joy. I'm on my own journey still.

Surveys show that a large proportion of the population search the web -- "google" -- for health-related information, but that often the information that they find is incorrect -- "plain wrong". This site is different -- it provides you the links, the tools to use them, to access and evaluate research-based information related to recovering from emotional trauma. This site provides links to original research, at least article abstracts (if you'd like to read the entire article, contact me -- [LINK]), links to online resources of recovery tools, as well as opportunities to contribute to the development of further scientific knowledge. The primary focus of this site will be contributors to "Complex Trauma" -- [LINK] -- see here -- [LINK] and,for a list of types of trauma as defined by the United States, National Child Traumatic Stress Network -- [LINK].

For a long time the focus of both research and service provision has been on victims of sexual and physical abuse. However, more and more the effects of emotional and psychological abuse are showing how these types of abuse can be in many ways as damaging, if not more damaging and longstanding than the effects of sexual and physical abuse -- see Hibbard et al (2012) -- [LINK] -- and van Harmelen et al (2012) -- [LINK]. Of course, it is rare that forms of abuse occur in isolation from each other -- multiple types of abuse happen in 90% of cases -- Pears, Kim & Fisher (2008) [LINK].

The site was set up in honour of my friend, Wayne T, my brother, Kerry, and my mother, Mauretta, all in their own way gentle, loving, and generous, all of whom helped me when I was going through some really hard times, but all victims of violence and substance abuse, at the hands of people who should have been able to love and care for them. No one gets out of the game of life alive but some, tragically, leave us before they should have to. They will not be forgotten and hopefully this site will help ensure that others will not have to struggle alone along the trail from dark times to mastery of one's demons, greater peace, and happier, more successful relationships.

Personal Perspective

In my writing on this site, words in brackets have special or particular meanings, not always what the words might directly mean, and warrant closer examination and more in-depth understanding. My perspective, based on my personal experience, is that of a middle-aged, heterosexual, “middle class” man who suffered various forms of abuse and neglect as a child. However, I warmly encourage contributions to the blog -- [LINK] from those with different views, different experiences, and thus speaking from different perspectives, but I do ask for those contributions to be respectful, and even assertive, of the personhood, rights, and dignity of all people equally. This is a standard I shall endeavour to hold to for myself. I also ask you to hold me to this standard and to let me know if I fail. Having been trained in Psychological and Biological Science my view of "psychological suffering" is that it constitutes various points on a continuum, rather than being of different distinct types "separating" people into different groups -- this has been well expressed by Dr Brian Koehler here [LINK] -- Dr Koehler, Ph. D., Psychologist, is the President of the United States division of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis   ( ISPS  [LINK] -- considerable research has now been produced showing how not only depression, anxiety, and trauma disorders, but also many other "mental disorders" often have an origin in early life trauma -- not that all do, but many more than once thought. Some of this research is discussed on this website, in a variety of places.


I shall expect my writings to be at least informed by research evidence, and where possible, based on published research -- see site section "Research" - [LINK]. No one area or type of abuse will be highlighted, for research has shown that different forms of abuse and neglect often occur together (Pears, Kim, & Fisher, 2008 - [LINK]).. Research studies will be cited in the style of the Sixth Edition of the American Psychological Association (reflecting my experience as a psych).

Blog Posts -- "Most Recent" Additions to Scientific Knowledge of Childhood Trauma
The latest additions to the scientific knowledgebase on childhood trauma and recovery will be discussed in my blog postings, but are archived, when time permits, here (so check my Blog first!) -- [LINK]  

Here is a brief introduction to the field -- [LINK]

Former Research Proposal
Now somewhat dated, this research proposal now simply reflects my early thoughts that the psychological processes of experiential avoidance, cognitive fusion, and limited mindfulnesss skills are the basis of much of the suffering found in those adults still suffering from the effects of childhood trauma. It draws attention also to he implications these "process difficulties" can have, in the form of problems with substance abuse and intimate partner violence. As yet, I am unaware of anyone else undertaking this research as "common sense" a view as it appears. It has potential for clinical interventions, I was unsuccessful in finding an appropriate supervisor in New Zealand. I include it here as it is a fair quality, though not "good", summary of the research findings at the time -- especially noteworthy is research bearing on just how longterm the effects are -- people can't just "snap out of it", or "get over it", however much they, or others, might want them to. -- [LINK].

Links to a number of therapy audiovisual resources are available -- [LINK], drawn largely from Psychotherapy Networker -- a valuable "continuing education" resource for practising therapists -- [LINK]. Currently, there are over 20Gb of audiovisual resources linked to this site. Access to videos is being progressively eliminated in order to "make room" for new resources in calendar year 2013, but links to audio MP3 recordings will remain, or be provided if they are not currently. These resource might be valuable to non-therapists for increasing your understanding of your situations -- how you came to have the concerns you do, and what might be able to be done about them. However, if you have any difficulty understanding, or applying, the principles discussed in these videos, do not hesitate in contacting your nearest available mental health practitioner. They are provided here as personal "professional-to-professional" communication and should be used as such, and not used without citation back to Psychotherapy Networker.

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