DO ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES AFFECT YOUR WELL-BEING IN ADULTHOOD?
As family therapist we often consider patterns of behavior or illnesses in past generations of one’s family. Therefore, in my assessment, even when seeing an individual, I will typically do a genogram or family tree with info regarding parents, grandparents, etc. This is not an effort to blame your current issues on your parents or your upbringing, but it is an effort to help you understand how childhood experiences may have affected you emotionally, mentally and physically.
The CDC and Kaiser Permanente teamed up to do an extensive study to explore the effects of adverse childhood experiences such as abuse or neglect, family or household challenges such as living with a chronically ill child or parent, living in poverty or under-resourced neighborhoods. They found that these “adverse childhood experiences” are strongly related to development of risk factors for disease, as well as one’s overall well-being through out the lifespan.
They found a multitude of health outcomes and health risk behaviors to be associated with adverse childhood experiences. Some of these associated outcomes or behaviors are alcoholism, illicit drug use, depression, intimate partner abuse, heart disease, liver disease, and poor work performance, just to name a few. Evidence like this is the reason that exploring and understanding more about your background and family history are helpful in gaining a new perspective on your personal life challenges. It’s not to blame your past, but to help you have less shame or self-blame about your problems. We do have to take responsibility to change our behaviors or mind set that may be contributing to our problems. A qualified therapist can help you along this path.