Growing up in a home with physical abuse, emotional neglect, mental illness, alcohol use, or drug use are some examples of childhood adversities. The seminal work of Dr. Vincent Felitti and colleagues asked over 17,000 adults to answer questions about adverse childhood experiences — or ACEs — and current health . Results were shocking: More ACEs led to poorer health in adulthood and early death.
It is important to understand that ACEs do not directly cause poor outcomes; there are likely many mediating mechanisms such as maladaptive coping, unhealthy interpersonal relationships, negative health behaviors, dysfunctional thinking styles, and insecure attachments that contribute to these outcomes. In addition to prevention efforts, these are all potential areas that therapists can intervene to mitigate the long-term effects of adversity.