“You know what? Because of what you’ve experienced, your body might be making more stress hormones than it should. That can look and feel like being quick to anger, or having trouble controlling your impulses, or getting sick easily”—I can’t tell you the number of kids who have looked at me and literally said, “Oh, you mean I’m not crazy?” stated, Doctor Nadine Burke Harris, an expert on the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how to reverse them.
She goes on to say, “Many of our kids have been told that they are the problem. Helping them to understand that what’s going on in their bodies is actually a normal response to the abnormal circumstance that they find themselves in, giving them tools to understand how to calm themselves down, how to keep themselves safe, how to connect with nurturing relationships—I’ve seen it be life-changing and life-saving.”
EFFECTS OF AN ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE
Reportedly 47.8% of us in Missouri have had at least one ACE. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) erode a child’s sense of safety, stability, and bonding and are linked to poorer health, mental health, behaviour, education, and income later in life. Such ACEs include many things. They can be experiencing or witnessing violence, abuse of any kind or neglect at home or in the community, having a family member attempt or die by suicide, growing up in a dysfunctional household due to substance abuse, mental health problems, parental divorce or seperation, and/or a household member in prison or jail.
Fortunately, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris assures us “the science shows that it’s the cumulative dose of early adversity that’s most harmful, it also shows that the cumulative dose of healing nurturing interactions is most healing.” She describes this healing “antidote to toxic stress.” It provides “the tools to understand how to recognize what’s going on with them, then how to respond—especially to be able to calm their bodies down.”
HOW HEARTLAND THERAPY CONNECTION CAN HELP
Aligned with Dr. Burke’s suggestions on how to help people “recognize and regulate their emotions and their behaviors,” at Heartland Therapy Connection we help clients heal through connection. We prioritize connection because of its power to alleviate suffering caused by stress responses. We connect people to education on trauma to normalize and validate our clients’ experiences.
Also, we connect people to skills such as mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and ways to regulate their emotional distress. We’re intentional about the nurturing connection between an individual and their therapist to help them regulate and calm their bodies. As a group, we have a breadth of knowledge and strong connections in the greater community, should there be a need for additional services, medications, or other support.
It’s never too early or too late. You too can learn how to self-regulate, soothe, and ultimately heal from your experiences with the nurturing connections we offer. According to Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ research, these connections can help you experience “reduced levels of cortisol and other stress hormones; and it also reduces the physiological indicators of an active stress response, like blood pressure and heart rate.”
Ultimately, these evidence-based practices are “an essential first step in an individual, family, or community’s journey to healing.” Dr. Nadine Burke Harris emphasizes “self-care is not selfish—we have to practice self-care so that we can be available. Please make sure to put your own oxygen mask on and practice real care for yourself so that you can be there for the next generation.”
Let us connect with you. Learn more about the services we offer by reaching us by phone, email, or stopping in our office at 616 E 63rd Street KCMO. We believe we are all #betterconnected and look forward to helping you get started! Take care.