There are many tropes about counselors blaming people’s childhoods for their current struggles.  I sometimes hear in counseling consults a variation of, “My problem isn’t my past, it’s my present.” 

While it’s true that people seek counseling because they are struggling in the present, sometimes the past is a root of present struggles. In the plant world, roots take in nutrients, and then turn the nutrients to food, and then leaves grow and flowers bloom. If you put poison in the roots, it will eventually affect the whole plant. If a person has trauma in their childhood, while their roots are being established, it can affect what that person learns about love and life and feelings.  To ignore that information would not be conducive to understanding how we got to where we are so we can figure out what nourishment we need in order to move forward differently. 

I almost always start my work with clients by making a genogram, which is like a family tree going back two generations (parents and grandparents) and also includes family patterns and information about the family as a whole. This helps me start to get to know a client by learning who they came from.  From there, I work with clients to decide how they want our work together to proceed.