Complex Trauma & Difficult Early Attachment.

This is an old website page here from 2012, now it’s a blog post.

Trauma can be big T or little t, it may also be known or unknown trauma, none is less significant.

Trauma comes under many guises and often goes alongside growing up with a difficult or disrupted early attachment to the parent/caregiver, meaning there were significant times in childhood when you were not seen, heard or acknowledged and you had difficult later life experiences too.

I like the term unmothered/parented children to describe this early disruption. Together they result in complex trauma that comes from a variety of sources.

Unfinished Business

I believe coming to therapy is about exploring our unfinished business. All our unresolved life experiences and our early attachment patterns are deeply etched in the neuroplasticity of our brains, it’s hard wired if you like.

These patterns repeat physiologically, as neurons that fire together wire together, resulting in how we are in present moment time and in the replaying of flashbacks, or unresolved issues or trauma as current somatic symptoms.

If our symptoms and these old patterns or ways of relating to others and the world are triggered, this is usually what drives us to seek help as life or part of our lives is out of balance and perhaps unmanageable. The good news is we can change the plasticity of the brain, by working together with what is currently presenting.

unfinished business, working with trauma, online.

Trauma – As well as being individual, it is now understood as generational and collective.

Short or Long Term Work
I understand that seeking professional help and sharing at this level is a powerful and courageous step to take. I very much respect the counselling/psychotherapeutic process and I will manage it in a calm and mindful manner. The work will unfold at its own pace and can either be short or long term to suit your needs.

I enjoy being creative in my approach and I use a variety of creative means, if appropriate, to enable clients to have better understanding of their current situation all of which helps get beneath the surface of the problem and allows meaning that is beyond words or from an early place in your history.

I have professional indemnity insurance which allows me to work online in private practice from my base here in Fife. I belong to National Counselling Society NCS as my professional member body and work to their code of ethics and practice. I attend regular CPD and have monthly supervision to support all of my work.

Abuse Trauma & Unmothered Children

From a page on my website- 2012.

I have copied this page here to the blog.

Those days I was operating from a mainly Counselling lense, with some Energy healing.

Toaday 10 years on I have completed IFS training and this is now the main model I offer to work with past events that were not resolved, or come down the generations.

I am also working via an energy healing lense and these can be combined if you so wish.

So I bring it here as a piece that is nostalgic, but also because it contains good information from my 20 plus years working as a Counsellor, which informs and underpins my current practice.

 I have a special interest in working with people who have experienced trauma, abuse and/or neglect as unmothered children. (unparented) As you are reading this now and have connected with the words/term, you may recognise  this as a part of yourself?  Perhaps its time to begin to explore that? I am happy to discuss this with you and explore it further.

Complex Trauma & Difficult Early Attachment
Are different words for the above. Trauma comes under many guises and often goes alongside growing up with a difficult or disrupted early attachment to the parent/caregiver, meaning there were significant times in childhood when you were not seen, heard or acknowledged ( whilst this is true, I find its subtle and not so subtle) and you had difficult later life experiences too. I like the term unmothered children to describe this early disruption. Together they result in complex trauma that comes from a variety of sources.

Which might result in you experiencing some of the following symptoms-

  • Depression
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Anger/Rage
  • Addictions
  • Domestic Violence
  • Childhood Abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • PTSD
  • mood swings
  • Obsessions
  • Difficulties in Relationships- work or home
  • Self Harm
  • Dissociation
  • Bullying
  • Trust Issues
Abuse, trauma, unmothered children.

Unmothered children is an emotive phrase. I first heard it via Dr. Clarisa Pinkola-Estes in her famous audio book called Warming the Stone Child.

On Warming the Stone Child, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés leads us past the gates of the conscious mind (where real time healing happens) to discover the unmothered child within. Along the way, this gifted storyteller and Jungian psychoanalyst instructs us about the psychology of abandonment in childhood, how it affects us in later life, and its curiously special gifts and powers. Drawing from many world cultures, Dr. Estés has gathered a collection of deep myths, fables, and fairy tales with the adult listener in mind. Her storytelling creates a compelling picture of the orphan figure through the ages, while helping us understand the meaning of preadolescent abandonment in our own lives. Spiced with wonderful storytelling, Warming The Stone Child is a unique listening experience with a practical edge. Highlights: Inuit fable of the Stone Child; symptoms of the adult “abandoned child”; the story of the Little Red Cap; English tale of the Stolen Woman Moon; the four types of abandonment; re-creating the inner mother, and much more.

Complex Trauma, from different sources

As different people we each have a unique experience of growing up. Unmothered children is a term I understand as growing up in a family where we did not have all of our needs met. There were significant times where we were not seen, heard or acknowledged and we had to adapt our true self to fit in. This unmothering is also known as developmental trauma or disrupted early  attachment. It often goes alongside childhood sexual abuse though not always. All of my training and practices give me the understanding, experience and tools to enable me to access the gates of the conscious mind and travel within. Beginning to unravel and make sense of past experiences and current symptoms.

Reasons why this happens

There are many reasons why this happens including growing up with domestic violence, parents using substances, alcohol, drugs, being part of large family, step family or lone parent family or living with a parent who has longstanding mental health issues such as depression/ anxiety. For whatever reason our parents- mothers, fathers/ primary care giver, were not able to be present enough of the time and engage enough, to enable the baby, child, young person to be truly seen, heard or acknowledged.

Epigenetics/Generational Trauma

Epigenetics – Trauma is also passed down through the generations in the genes, this is known as epigenetics. Passed from generation to generation, unconsciously. These traumas may appear as attachment patterns, ways of beings, different types of abuse, ptsd,complex trauma from a variety of sources.

Generational trauma and epigenetics are also thought to be linked to some the dakest moments in history, such as war, genocide, famines, slavery. This is beleived to result in an epigenetic imprint passed through the generations.

Generational Trauma in IFS this is known as a Legacy burden, and there are specific ways to work with this type of Trauma and help to heal it.

There are also Legacy heirlooms passed down through the generations- positive qualities and personal attribues.

Seeking Help

People generally find ways of managing their symptoms, some of these are harmfull and some are not. In IFS these are know as Managers and are either proactive or reactive ( Firefighters) People also generally, seek help when their current symptoms or way of life is unmanageable or unsustainable.

In choosing to come to therapy you now have the opportunity to begin to clear and heal these patterns of old, helping at the same time to heal and clear the generation trauma that it is.

Counselling & Psychotherapy and/or creative self expresion are safe ways for you to begin to unravel your story and history.

Working with the body and the somatic symptoms in a safe and gentle manner.

Attuned vibrational healing, tuning into love….

Its not so much that we cant feel those primal emotions, its that we run from them. Or our fear does. We fear feeling them again as the situation that originally set them up, was fearful and in beginning to re-member or get in touch with that, It re=lights up in our brain circuitry and causes alarm all over again.
We can re wire though! we can meet THAT PART, THE FEAR, mindfully, with compassion and through grace and love… and then small step by small step, that very old defence will allow its dissolving..and new neuroplasticity will form and grow and rewiring will have been successful. . and repeat.
Tuning into love.
maggie costella 2016


all of my work is based on working from my heart centre

CRM The Comprehensive Resource Model

I have just returned from another fabulous 4 day training with Lisa Schwarz and the Comprehensive Resource Model. This is the 4 th training event I have completed in this modality. I have attended an introduction day, basic CRM and Core Self training.

At the heart of this model is a way of working that offers a positive attuned relationship with the therapist, my way of saying that is that I am working from my heart centre. ❤

See the breathwork page here for examples of breathing that are taught with this model. In particular I like the heart breathing exercise.

Why not try them and see what works best for you it’s  a great resource to help manage symptoms.

I cannot recommend highly enough CRM and it’s unique creative way of working that reaches the parts other models don’t get too. Reminds me of a certain beer advert. 🙂

CRM can help with the following.

  • PTSD and Complex PTSD
  • Big T and small t Trauma
  • Physical and emotional trauma
  • Difficult early attachment to primary caregiver
  • Being an unmothered child
  • Loss
  • Generational Trauma work
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Addictions
  • Anger and rage problems
  • Stress
  • Anxiety and panic

The Triune Brain

The Triune brain

All of my trauma work is understood from my sensorimotor training which is based on this model of the brain. The triune brain. Using this model and this way of understanding brain structure and neuroscience, we can begin to understand trauma and why it occurs. Psychoeducation is so important in knowing we are not going mad, but that it is “simply” neurons old patterns firing our unresolved issues, we haven’t worked through yet. Knowing that these physiological reactions are body based reactions and outwith our control, till we start to work with them, helps us understand what is going on and know too that we can begin change them. When things are not going well and we have symptoms that means our limbic system is firing and we are “out of control” , what Dan Siegal calls the low road on his videos here. Hope is always present though and we can rewire these old patterns.