NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Adults Who Were Emotionally Neglected as Children Often Have Problems Trusting Others

In my prior articles about children who were emotionally neglected, What is Childhood Emotional Neglect? and What is the Connection Between Childhood Emotional Neglect and Problems Later on in Adult Relationships, I defined childhood emotional neglect and gave an overview of potential problems that could develop for these children when they become adults.  In this article, I will focus on how adults, who were emotionally neglected as children, often have problems trusting others.

How the Early Home Environment Affects Children's Ability to Form Trusting Relationships 
Generally speaking, children who grow up in loving, stable environments learn how to trust.  If their early relationships with their parents are secure and stable, they're more likely to be able to form stable, secure relationships as children and adults.

Adults Who Were Emotionally Neglected as Children Often Have Problems Trusting Others

In general, children who grow up in homes that are either unstable or where they are emotionally neglected, often have difficulty forming stable relationships as adults.  They are also often afraid to place their trust in others because they couldn't trust their caregivers.

The Early Childhood Home Environment Affects Children's Ability to Form Trusting Relationships

They often lack the emotional foundation for knowing whom they can trust, when they can trust or if they can trust others.  Lacking this ability to discern who can be trusted and who can't, they often make mistakes by either trusting people who aren't emotionally trustworthy or not trusting people who would be trustworthy if only they would allow these people to get closer to them.

An Inability to Assess Trustworthiness Can Create Emotional Havoc 
This inability to judge who can or can't be trusted can create havoc in their emotional lives.  It's not unusual for people with this problem to isolate themselves, especially after having a few disappointing adult relationships.  Their disappointments in adult relationships often follows years of being with untrustworthy adults when they were children.

Many People With Trust Issues Give Up on Close Relationships and Isolate Themselves
In my psychotherapy private practice in NYC, therapy clients, both men and women, who have this problem, will often tell me, "You know how men are--you can't trust them" or "I've never met a woman that I can trust."

While it's understandable that, given their history, they would feel this way, it's sad to see adults who just give up on relationships altogether, even friendships.

The Importance of Therapists Developing a Rapport With Therapy Clients Who Were Emotionally Neglected as Children
Many of these clients come to therapy to work through their early childhood issues around emotional neglect, but they don't realize that there's a connection between the emotional neglect they experienced as children and their problems with trusting people as adults.

In Therapy: Adults Who Were Emotionally Neglected as Children Often Have Problems Trusting Others

Asking them to consider that they could learn to develop the ability to be more discerning so they could make better choices in their relationships seems like a very daunting task to many of them.

Of course, the fact that they come into therapy at all, which involves placing a certain amount of trust in the therapist, is a huge step forward.  Given their history, it takes courage.

In order to do the necessary therapeutic work, I know I need to build a rapport with them, as I would with any client, but especially with clients who were emotionally neglected as children because they often fear being emotionally vulnerable.  And, with any form of psychotherapy, there's an element of emotionally vulnerability as clients open up to dealing with their emotional issues.

Many People Who Were Emotionally Neglected as Children Are Too Afraid to Allow Themselves to Be Emotionally Vulnerable in Therapy, So They Never Get Professional Help
People who have problems trusting are often unaware that they can work through their traumatic history in therapy so they can develop the ability to trust and to learn who is trustworthy.  They would rather be alone than risk getting hurt again.  The vast majority of people with this issue, regrettably, never make it into therapy.  They're just too afraid.

Many People Who Were Emotionally Neglected as Children Are Too Afraid to Come to Therapy

From their perspective, the most important people in their lives, their parents, failed them so why should a therapist, who starts out being a total stranger, be any different?

They often find it hard to believe that a therapist could care about them.

Since they never get the help that they need, they continue to avoid getting involved in relationships--even though they often feel very lonely.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you feel your childhood history has had a traumatic effect on you that is holding you back as an adult, you owe it to yourself to get help from a licensed mental health therapist.

To make the process less daunting for yourself, you can interview a few therapists until you find a therapist you like and you feel can help you (see my article:  How to Choose a Therapist).

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many adults to overcome the emotional obstacles that keep them from living a fulfilling life.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.