Do You or Your Parts/Alters Think You Don’t Deserve to be Healthy?


This is one of those details that many general psychotherapists fail to explore.  Usually, they assume that their clients want to improve their physical health.

They shouldn’t assume that people who have experienced severe early childhood trauma operate with the same expectations as people who grew up in typical homes and experienced trauma later in life.

If they expect anything, they should assume that there is an excellent chance that the crippling shame that many survivors carry affects how entitled they feel to good medical and dental care and to good health in general.


There is research to support this.  Most of it is on the sense of deserving mental health, but it absolutely applies to physical health as well.  Being brought up to ignore the body, find it disgusting or too painful to attend to, and developing medical and dental issues due to the erosive effects of trauma can lead to the sense that you don’t deserve to be healthy.

This is the trauma, and the trauma disorder, talking.

It might be your abuser’s lessons too.

It is not the truth.

Trauma survivors deserve better care; the best care, in fact.  Their survival under horrible situations is amazing to anyone who meets them and hears their story.  Still being on this planet after severe early childhood abuse is simply astounding.  These folks need and deserve the best we have to offer.

But they have to seek it out AND accept it.

Neither action is easy.


The process starts with therapists asking about whether a client is aware of this (often unconscious) belief, and with medical and dental providers making their appointments shame-free.  Any whiff of blame can send a survivor running in shame.

Survivors need to take a look at their past and present actions, and allow that perhaps this belief has been simmering in the back of their minds.  Then they need to decide that the want to address it in small ways.  The book “Tiny Habits” isn’t written for trauma survivors, but it could be.  It teaches readers how to take very small actions toward a goal.  For trauma survivors, this approach minimizes triggering shame.  It is a way to begin to fight for health.

breathing trauma


Published by Cathy Collyer

I am a licensed occupational therapist, licensed massage therapist, and certified CBT-i sleep coach in private practice in the NYC area. I have over 25 years of professional experience in adult and pediatric treatment. It has been a joy to help people of all ages improve their ability to grow and thrive! Occupational therapists are focused on enhancing a client's functioning in everyday life. We are practical healthcare providers, interested in teaching, adapting actions and environments, and building a client's useful skills for living their best life, regardless of their challenges. I am the author of five books, including "Staying In The Room: Managing Medical And Dental Care When You Have DID" and "The Practical Guide To Toilet Training the Autistic Child". I lecture on many subjects, including sleep, trauma, and development. Contact me to learn more about how I can help you achieve YOUR goals!

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