ACE HIGH – LOW STAKES
Life is a gamble and for those of us who had Adverse Childhood Experiences it becomes even more so.
Research of 17,000 participants from 1995-97 looked at the link between the stress of childhood trauma, and the long-term physical and mental health, longevity and quality of life and social status.
It seems that the odds are greatly stacked against us the higher our A.C.E. score is out of 10.
These 10 types of adverse childhood experiences are:
1. Recurring physical abuse.
2. Contact sexual abuse.
3. Recurring emotional abuse.
4. Physical neglect.
5. Emotional neglect.
6. Loss of parent(s) – due to abandonment, separation, divorce or death.
7. Family member in prison or in hospital long-term.
8. Domestic violence.
9. Alcohol and/or drug use in the household.
10. Mental illness of a family member.(depression/suicidal thoughts)
At least 67% of people have an A.C.E. score of 1 and 25% have 4 or more.
It’s no surprise then that about 25% of people seek psychological help.
Frustratingly, therapy with children is by nature restricted – unless it involves the broader and deeper family system.
I have a score of 6, which is quite high, but I hope I’m proof that things can be changed and predicted outcomes averted. In my case that took years (and several thousand pounds worth) of therapy, as well as extensive counselling and psychotherapy training.
I’ve taken the long route and can now offer people a ‘short cut’ (I could have done with one of those myself!)
We’re probably all aware that the template for our adult lives was created in childhood, and that a lot of the time we react and behave without thinking, but instead from our programming and sub-conscious belief system.
This is resistant to being changed because it was created to keep you safe, and to toe the line, and to follow the ‘shoulds’ that were imposed upon you. It felt as if your very survival (at least in emotional terms) depended upon you following this Script, and wearing the masks that the family expected of you.
This old programming affects how you’ve dealt with stress, later traumatic experiences, loss and grief, anticipated and feared rejection in relationships, and the way you in turn parent your children.
The good news is that with awareness things can start to improve and a high A.C.E. score no longer means fewer throws of the dice of life.
When we chose to explore how we think, feel, speak, and behave – and more importantly the effect this has on people around us – then we can leave the gambling table with our pockets full of chips to share around!
I have created an acronym for the process we need to go through to recover from our A.C.E. score… S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life.
S – Self Awareness
E – Education
L – Learning new skills
E – Emotional intelligence and balance
C – Control, clarity and choice
T – Transformation
My own approaches have this overarching aim to help you to move from being the victim of the whims of the dice to being the one who plays the table to your own advantage and becomes a winner!
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)