10 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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Establishing a mental connection with a parent or caretaker is crucial for a person’s physical, emotional, and psychological health from the moment they are born. A compassionate caretaker can offer adequate nurturing to develop an infant into a healthy adult capable of exploring the world around them and forming positive relationships. However, if these early ties fail, the child may face neglect, otherwise known as abandonment.

The trauma associated with abandonment can have severe consequences for how a person continues to live their life. It makes it difficult for them to establish healthy connections with others and puts them at risk of problems like substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. Seeking treatment for abandonment trauma early on can, fortunately, bring positive outcomes for the sufferer and their loved ones.

While every person is unique and may experience and process trauma differently, specific symptoms remain constant for everyone. Following are some common abandonment issue symptoms:

  • Fear of being left behind
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth
  • Inability to form healthy relationships
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Increasing levels of insecurity
  • Frequently ending relationships and friendships
  • Emotional unavailability
  • Feelings of being not enough
  • Holding on to a relationship, even if it is abusive, to avoid any feelings of abandonment
  • Fear of conflict within a relationship
  • Tendency to self-harming
  • An excessive need for control over people, situations, and the environment
  • Reacting to situations on one extreme or the other
  • Setting unrealistic expectations
  • Emotional flashbacks leading to emotional distress

Overcoming the past trauma and emotions of abandonment may not be easy for many. Mentioned below are the tips to follow to achieve this goal smoothly.

What not to do

  • Holding any lofty expectations from the relationship or desiring a specific response from your partner prematurely or unduly. This may lower your self-worth and deteriorate your partner’s views about you.
  • Attempting to conceal your emotions as it may confuse and drive your partner away.
  • Trying to coerce your spouse into acting in a way that makes you feel safer. Doing so will only increase the pressure on the relationship and weaken it.
  • Trying to go over the board to conceal your fear of abandonment. It will make you lose your authenticity despite your best efforts to save the relationship.
  • Establishing an emotional bond with your partner. This will make you rely more on them than they rely on you, which fuels desperation.
  • Developing hatred towards yourself when you realise that your past trauma is currently affecting your relationship. Do not panic; it is possible to reverse it with therapy.

What to do

  • Stop condemning yourself for something that happened in the past. Your fear of abandonment is irrational, and you are not the cause of it.
  • Quit blaming your insecurities on your partner or anyone else.
  • Instead of deeming yourself insufficient, acknowledge your fear of abonnement as a natural component of being human.
  • Accept the responsibility of managing your anxiety instead of expecting your partner to cure it.
  • Commit yourself to utilising your abonnement trauma as a catalyst for empathy and self-reliance.
  • Practice self-assurance and self-responsibility by actively participating in rehabilitation programmes for abandonment.
  • Accept that maintaining your sense of security is solely your responsibility. The moment you seek a solution in your partner, you lose control.
  • Support yourself through recovery.
  • For someone struggling to overcome abandonment trauma for a long time with no success, seeking abandonment therapy becomes necessary. This type of therapy assists people in practising self-compassion and the ability to care for themselves, leading to self-recovery.

Among the different types of therapy routinely offered for behavioural issues, the following best suit a person with abandonment trauma:

Eye movements desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is particularly effective in helping clients process different types of traumas. In case of abandonment trauma, it can reduce the associated symptoms by reprocessing past memories related to the triggering event.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)

DBT is routinely offered in combination with social skills training and individual counselling therapy. As a part of this therapy, people with abandonment trauma can learn to manage their emotions and discuss their challenges and difficulties with their partners and other family members.

Behavioural cognitive therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that aims to increase awareness of an individual’s feelings in response to certain situations. It helps people with abandonment trauma, and issues shift their perception of the fear-inducing circumstances. Once this is achieved, most people can remodel their thinking in response to the event of abandonment, and this adjustment helps them reflect better on a more recent version of reality.

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy supports individuals in determining which thoughts and emotions motivate and drive their actions. It also helps them recognise their present relationships with others and disclose protective mechanisms acquired to respond to possible desertion. Many clients that undergo psychodynamic therapy can discern between their fragile former selves and their stronger current selves.

Couples’ therapy for abandonment fear

An individual with abandonment trauma often finds it difficult to make and maintain relationships. This is especially true for couples where the partner of an afflicted person is completely unaware of the trauma and its impact on them. In such circumstances, couples counselling sessions are arranged by many rehabs to allow both partners to develop a deeper understanding of one another. This therapy aims to establish better communication and tone down the behaviours that may prove detrimental to the relationship. The partners of an afflicted person can also gain knowledge about maintaining positive connections and support them in recovery.

Couples therapy for emotional desertion

It is common for someone with an underlying abandonment trauma to be emotionally estranged from their partners in a relationship. Counselling sessions are offered to both partners at the same time to make it up for this weakness. The aim is to boost recovery and allow the couple to rekindle their relationship by removing any difficulties, such as emotional unavailability and a lack of intimacy.

Fears of abandonment and the trauma associated with it can be a significant problem for both children and adults. Hence, it is imperative to seek help for it, significantly if the issue is impacting the current life and relationships. For many people, the abandonment, depression, and trauma are transient and may pass on their own. However, if the symptoms persist for months or years and prevent you from forming healthy relationships with others, an expert can help.

Join an abandonment trauma UK rehab today to begin your process of recovery.



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Define Treatment Goals

1 week

Comprehensive Assessments & Detox

1-4 week

Ongoing Physical & Mental Therapy

4 week

Family Therapy

5-8 week


12+ week

Refresher Visit

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