Unpacking and working with implicit memories from childhood trauma
Implicit memory is the unconscious storage and retrieval of “memories” without conscious awareness. Implicit memories arise not as a story or image as explicit memories do. Instead, they arise as body feelings, often triggered by contexts that can’t be consciously connected to what’s happening in the present moment.
Childhood trauma refers to a broad range of experiences that may lead to lasting negative effects on physical and mental health, including abuse, neglect, and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Childhood trauma can create implicit memories by activating the brain's survival response and encoding memories in non-verbal memory systems. Implicit memories can affect us negatively as adults by triggering intense emotional and physical responses without conscious awareness, leading to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
To work with implicit memories for trauma resolution, individuals can try various trauma-focused therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and somatic experiencing therapy. I teach a class called SkillfullyAware, which teaches students to use various trauma resolution techniques that help them process and safely integrate their implicit memories.
Childhood trauma can create implicit memories that negatively impact our adult lives, but there are evidence-based treatments that can help individuals work through these memories and heal from the effects of trauma. If you experienced early childhood trauma and want to see how people work through it using various evidence-based techniques, check out the film I co-wrote and produced, Is Your Story Making Your Sick?
If you want to reach out for support, I’m here and would love to connect with you.
Wishing you well,