The Power of Caring Adulthood Experiences


Caring adulthood experiences have the power to combat some of the impacts of adverse childhood experiences.

healing trauma



As a psychiatrist, and more importantly as a human, I am extremely appalled by the many practices, policies, and procedures designed to keep individuals stuck in toxic and dysfunctional cycles created by trauma. It is a no brainer that what we need is to better allocate resources to eradicate the root causes of human suffering and distress and help people move towards healing.

I would argue that we all together can change the status quo. Systems are made of individuals. Caring adulthood experiences (CAEs) have the power to combat some of the impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Adult survivors of childhood trauma often end up enjoying neither their childhood nor their adulthood. Trauma has the power to break us, but we have the power to fight back through connection, compassion, and acts of service and kindness.

CAEs would likely help adults realize their worth and start taking care of their needs, nursing their wounds, be more available for their children and their loved ones, and be better equipped to break the toxic cycles of transgenerational trauma. CAEs are effective prevention, rather than intervention, tools that, if mastered and frequently used, might create a world where humans are not always one step behind the trauma story.

CAEs can happen on individual, familial, communal, systemic, societal, national, and global levels. At every interpersonal encounter, the goal is absolute safety and to prevent or at least reduce further harm to the adult survivor of childhood trauma so they can heal and thrive and be a better caregiver for the small ones under their care, thereby breaking the cycle. It goes without saying that caring encounters should always be the norms in the case of children—all children.

CAEs are nonclinical relational gestures that are available to all of us every day. You do not need to be a therapist to be therapeutic: smiling at a stranger, taking care of an elderly neighbor, talking to someone homeless, welcoming the "other," minding our words before we utter them, spending quality time with our families, reaching out to build bridges with our enemies, any small act of kindness can contribute towards the solution. We are the solution.

On a system level, we need to build communities of care and teams that care deeply about staff. We need to notice each other, check on one another, make self-care part of the culture, implement meaningful trauma-informed practices, policies and procedures, and speak up against toxic systems. Staff well-being is a priority; healthy staff provide better care to their clients.

The original ACEs score did not include traumatic experiences on systemic and global levels like racism, forced migration, armed conflicts, and others. CAEs have no boundaries; the language of the human heart needs no translation. CAEs defeat ACEs when we all treat one another as brothers and sisters in humanity. Every single one of us—adults, children, and inner children—deserve nothing but compassion and tender loving care.

I would love to conduct research to show the impact of CAEs on liberating millions of trauma survivors worldwide from the shackles of ACEs. I hope you join me on this journey.

Dr Reda is a psychiatrist in Colorado. He is the author of The Wounded Healer: The Pain and Joy of Caregiving.

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