Very often how we see ourselves and relate to others reflects our childhood relationships and experiences within our families. Ideally as we mature we develop our own identity, our own views, values and beliefs.

However, very often we are unaware of the effects our childhood experiences have, on how we function in the world and relate to others. Extensive theory and research suggests that our early attachment/relationships to significant people, such as parents or carers, and the environment and family we grow-up in influence our relationships and how we behave towards situations and others.

All children have to learn ways to survive in their family environments, some are fortunate to be supported and nurtured by parents or carers, or siblings. Encouraged to develop confidence and self-esteem, and know what they want to achieve in life.

No family, parent, caregiver or sibling is perfect – most of the time they do the best they can – they are ‘good enough’ and do not intend to harm or inhibit a child’s growth.

Unfortunately, others are not so fortunate, and may have been subjected to negative experiences that continue to affect their adult lives. Such as:-

Abuse – physical, emotional, sexual or neglect

Parents or other caregiver addicted to alcohol or drugs

Being placed into local authority care

Family separation

Sibling rivalry

Death of a parent/grandparent or other significant other

Severe ill health in the family

Family instability – e.g. financial, numerous house moves, parental absence

Family conflict

Serious mental health problems within the family

Neighborhood disputes

Loss of home

Victim of crime – family, family member or self

We develop strategies, behaviours and beliefs to survive these unfortunate traumas – needing to protect ourselves. Sometimes these survival strategies and how we relate in the world begin to be ineffectual and unhelpful, preventing us from having good relationships and experiences. Our trust is understandably limited.

As your counsellor I would never remove any defensive strategies – they need to be respected, you developed them for good reason, they have kept you safe, enabled you to survive. Together we might identify, explore and gain awareness and understanding, It is YOU that decides what you want to keep, change, moderate or let go of – you are the one in control of any change – I would be alongside you, facilitating any changes you chose to make.

You will have the opportunity, in a safe and non-judgmental therapeutic relationship, to gain empowerment and insight – to personally grow.

Childhood issues can affect us in different ways. Amongst these may be:

Negative thoughts about yourself and others


Low self-confidence and self-esteem

Anger and hurt, and other powerful feelings

Low mood or depression


High stress levels

Repetitive negative life patterns

Relationship difficulties

Commitment difficulties

Lack of trust

Counselling may help with childhood issues that were out of your control  – sharing a life story and gaining empathic understanding can be emotionally healing. You may begin to be empathic towards yourself, understand how your past has influenced your life with a view to gaining empowerment to change how you relate to yourself and others – release yourself from any negative aspects of your past, recognise your resilience and survival strength.

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