Best Books on Healing Childhood Trauma
Traumatic experiences including physical abuse in childhood, sexual abuse, and neglectful parents are all now known to be the root cause of many issues later on in adult life such as severe PTSD symptoms or what is now known as CPTSD, major depression or depressive symptoms, anxiety disorders, drug or substance abuse and alcohol use disorders to name a few.
Unresolved traumatic experiences are also, I believe, the cause of most mental illnesses.
Having said all that you don’t have to just live with the symptoms, healing is possible. There are thousands of self-help books on the topic of developmental trauma, childhood trauma healing and biographies of people who suffered horrendous childhood traumas and emotional abuse and healed.
The healing process is not easy and you will most definitely need to see this as a healing journey since, more often than not, it wasn’t just one event but many events that happened throughout your childhood.
I have found that this healing journey always starts with an intellectual awareness, which is where great self-help books on healing childhood trauma come in.
The healing process involves something called inner child healing.
If you experienced any form of abuse in childhood the books listed below will most definitely help you understand the impact childhood trauma has on your adult life as well as give you some guidance on the healing process.
One thing I will share is that for many people it may not have been physical trauma but more so emotional trauma or some form of insidious emotional abuse. Because this type of abuse is not physical, people tend to overlook the impact it may have on their adult life.
Throughout our childhood, we learn through association and identification. We learn by watching our parents and how they relate to each other, people and life. We also learn and form our beliefs about ourselves through the relationship we have with our parents, basically how they treat us.
Another way that we learn throughout our childhood that is not known or talked about much is through emotions. This is probably the part that most people are not aware of. We are constantly picking up on our parents’ unconscious, suppressed and projected emotions.
What most people don’t realize is that the withdrawal of love is emotionally traumatic to a child.
When a child feels this withdrawal of love, she/he feels abandoned emotionally. The child then goes into fight or flight and will do whatever mummy and daddy want to get back this connection.
Childhood trauma includes when the parent is:
- Angry and projecting this at the child
- Trying to control the child through fear
- Depressed or suffering from a mental illness
- An alcoholic or drug addict and unable to care for the child
- Emotionally manipulating the child
- Neglecting the child’s needs
- Belittling the child’s emotions or emotional needs
- Physically abusing the child
- Using the child to cover up their own feelings, of loneliness for example
I believe that all our negative patterns stem from our childhood — both from childhood traumas / emotional wounds and inherited from our parent’s unhealed emotional wounds. These form the foundation of our beliefs about ourselves, relationships, life and the world.
We then project out these negative emotions and attract situations, events and relationships that reflect them back. We continue to re-live these same negative patterns emotionally over and over again until we awaken to the truth.
The truth that perhaps we were not loved in the way we falsely believed we were. I hate saying this to clients and being the bearer of bad news, as often I’m the one that breaks it to them, but I also know that it is only the truth that will heal and set them free.
The following books opened up my eyes and helped me understand the truth of childhood trauma that most people are not aware of. I hope you enjoy them and find them as eye-opening as I did when I was experiencing my awakening.
My Top 5 Childhood Trauma & Inner Child Healing Books:
1. Home Coming: Reclaiming & Championing Your Inner Child by John Bradshaw
I love John Bradshaw, his work and books really opened my eyes to my own childhood trauma. John Bradshaw goes through each developmental stage throughout childhood, meaning infancy, toddler, pre-school etc and the core woundings from each stage as well as exercises to start healing your inner child at those stages. He also covers topics such as the original pain, toxic shame, enmeshment, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, the importance of psychological birth, and codependency amongst many other important topics. You can really feel his passion for his work – at least I could. This book really gives you the foundation and I believe everyone needs to read and do the work in this book! If you’re seeking a deeper understanding of where some of your negative patterns stem from, I highly recommend this book. This would be a great one to get started with and overall I feel it’s one of the few books out there which gives you a complete overview of the foundational work and what it takes to truly heal.
2. Thou Shalt Not Be Aware by Alice Miller
This book is a little hard to read at first but once you get into it and really understand the depth of what Alice Miller is saying, you will be in awe. I could not put this book down, the intricacy of how she explained how to read between the invisible lines of parent and child relationship dynamic is brilliant. I love Alice Miller’s work and most of my own work with clients really focuses on these subtle, covert and unspoken parent-child dynamics which is often the root of emotional trauma in childhood. Interestingly enough because this is not “seen”, meaning it was mainly happening emotionally and through forms of gaslighting, minimizing, projecting, it is often not seen as trauma because we were insidiously taught not to be aware of what was actually happening. I honestly cannot recommend this book enough.
3. The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller
I know, another Alice Miller book — but in fact, I recommend ALL Alice Miller books. Other books I wanted to add to this list of favourites is For Your Own Good and The Body Never Lies both by Alice Miller. I cannot recommend her books enough. I am often surprised that Alice Miller is not known amongst many healers that I’ve come across. I find this very sad especially since I consider her books the core foundational work for any healer / therapist / coach to understand. If you have done years of therapy and read a lot of self-help books and still feel there is something missing, you have to read Alice Miller! Like all of her books! She goes in-depth into the psychodynamics of the parent-child relationship. Once you have read her books, you will never think the same again. The truth may hurt but it will also set you free.
Note: All Alice Miller books are quite a “heavy” read, just FYI.
4. Toxic Parents by Susan Forward
This is a great book and very easy to read without the heavy psychology but enough to give you a basic understanding of what emotional abuse and emotional manipulation are. Susan Forward shares a lot of examples and really gives you an overview of the toxic family system including different types of toxic parents such as the God-like parents, the alcoholics, the verbal abusers, the controllers, the sexual abusers etc She also includes things like sibling rivalry and the causes of it, the forgiveness trap and some great steps to start healing and reclaiming your life. This book is definitely an eye-opener. It will support you in getting started on your healing journey through clear guidelines and great exercises!
5. Adult Children of Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson
Ok, so the top three books are quite heavy on the psychology part so if you want an easy read and easy to understand book, this is another great one to get started. Also, if you feel you had a good childhood and weren’t badly abused, then this book is for you. Lindsay C. Gibson goes through all the signs of emotionally immature parents as well as how emotionally immature parents think with regards to things like forgiveness, abandonment, betrayal etc. and how they might respond when you try to get emotionally intimate. You will start to understand what goes through their mind so you really get a great picture of how emotionally immature people function and their view of the emotional world. In this book, she describes the four main types of emotionally immature parents and how to start healing from these emotional wounds.
I can guarantee that if you’re seeking truth and desire to understand your childhood and how some of your childhood traumas may have affected you, you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to come back and leave me a comment, I’d love to know what you thought about the above books.
Plus, if you need support healing your inner child wounds get in touch. Through Intuitive Coaching & Soul Healing Sessions, I teach clients how to process their emotions and work through triggers and trauma consciously, guide them to look within and be their own healer. If you’d like to do Soul Coaching with me you can find more information here.
All techniques and information I share are considered coaching, self-help or complementary therapies. I am not a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist or medical doctor, I have a degree in Health Sciences in Complementary Therapies. Everything I write and talk about comes mainly from my own experience in healing myself and the tools, techniques, and resources I learned throughout my own inner journey.
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