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The Adverse Childhood Experiences Recovery Workbook (Dr. Glenn Schiraldi)


                      A new guide for healing the hidden wounds from ACEs

                    The Adverse Childhood Experiences Recovery Workbook
                                               Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D.
                 Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2021, 232 pages
         Practical, powerful skills for healing the hidden wounds of childhood trauma

Dr. Glenn Schiraldi is one of the world’s most trusted experts on stress and resilience. His Adverse Childhood Experiences Recovery Workbook is the most complete, accessible, and evidence-based healing resource available. The ripples of childhood trauma spread throughout our society affecting every facet of life. Thanks to Schiraldi’s stellar work, there is a now a trusted map to recovery available for lay people and helping professionals alike. This workbook is a game changer with the power to heal lives. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Joan Borysenko, PhD, distinguished pioneer in integrative medicine. New York Times best selling author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind

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More than twenty years of research clearly shows that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) put adults at much greater risk for many, many psychological and medical conditions. ACEs include all types of abuse and neglect, a missing parent, living with someone who is mentally ill or addicted to drugs, and other forms of childhood upheaval. Now there is a practical, powerful guide to heal the hidden wounds caused by ACEs. I’d like to explain how this workbook came to be and tell you a little about its contents.

          As a military veteran who specialized in stress, trauma, and resilience at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health for decades, I’ve observed that adults who appear outwardly normal often carry painful hidden wounds from their earlier years. Knowing that emotional suffering predicts a range of medical illnesses, I developed and tested skills-based courses to reduce such suffering—while also optimizing health and performance. We found that this training reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and anger, while increasing resilience, happiness, self-esteem, optimism, and curiosity. In the meantime, I developed a resilience training program for high-risk groups such as cops, firefighters, and the military to prepare them emotionally for the difficult challenges they face. These groups are typically well trained tactically, but not emotionally, and usually have experienced more ACEs than their civilian peers.

          During this time, Dr. Vincent Felitti tested the notion that the effects of ACEs accumulate and set people up for enormous suffering in adulthood. Both his and subsequent research have firmly established that ACEs predict myriad disorders, ranging from adult depression, anxiety, drug abuse, ADHD, PTSD, and suicide, to obesity, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, to name a few. In other words, the common, unresolved inner wounds from childhood adversity are causing untold (and needless) suffering later in life.

          People often ask, “Am I stuck with this suffering? Is there anything that can help me feel normal? What can I do to heal? How do I find the right help?” I came to realize that there was a dire need for a clear guide to help people heal those hidden wounds from the early years. People need to know that they do not have to suffer for decades. There are many effective healing and coping skills to try. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Recovery Workbook explains a wide variety of very effective, practical skills. These skills are based on recent findings in neuroscience, attachment, traumatic stress, and resilience—put together under one cover. Recent advances in understanding the brain’s response to traumatic stress indicate that traditional psychological approaches that emphasize thinking and talking are usually not the best starting point for healing. Instead, this workbook first utilizes body-centered and attachment-based imagery strategies before talking/thinking strategies are tried. And when additional help is needed, the workbook shows how to find the right professional help.

          What can you expect? Practicing the principles and skills in this workbook is likely to greatly reduce your suffering, improve happiness, and help you improve your mental and physical health and functioning generally. If you are a helping professional, this workbook will give you many powerful tools to help your clients heal.

How is the Workbook Organized?

The first part of the workbook explains the links between ACEs and harmful physical and mental changes. You’ll see that these changes are understandable and normal. You are not crazy. This part also overviews attachment theory and neuroscience. The next part of the book addresses solutions. You’ll:

  • Prepare to rewire your brain by optimizing brain health, brain function, and mood. You’ll also learn skills to manage the extremes of stress arousal and disturbing emotions—both of which block healing.
  • Strengthen and settle the nervous system that was destabilized by toxic childhood stress. This is accomplished through soothing self-nurturing and attachment imagery, which provides the kindness and comfort that were needed developmentally.
  • Use floatback strategies to rewire and settle disturbing childhood memories and beliefs.
  • Rework the deeply engrained, visceral experience of shame.
  • Create a joyful, fulfilling future.

The good news is that healing and happiness are certainly possible! This workbook shows you the pathways to achieve these goals.


Introduction 1

PART I: About Adverse Childhood Experiences

Chapter 1 Toxic Stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences 6

Chapter 2 How ACEs Harm the Body: The Mechanisms 18

Chapter 3 How ACEs Shape Psychology 25

PART II: Solutions

About Healing

Chapter 4 The Promise of Healing 44


Chapter 5 Regulate Stress Arousal 54

Chapter 6 Regulate Strong Emotions 60

Chapter 7 Take Care of Your Brain 67

Strengthening and Stabilizing the Nervous System with Imagery

Chapter 8 Attachment Imagery 78

Chapter 9 Self-Nurturing Imagery 84

Chapter 10 Exploring Imagery 88

Chapter 11 Attachment Imagery for Your Teen Years 92

Chapter 12 Comforting Imagery for Difficult Times

Getting to the Bottom of Things: Floatback Strategies

Chapter 13 Floating Back for Disturbing Events 98

Chapter 14 Floating Back to Core Beliefs 105

Reworking Shame

Chapter 15 Shame and Self-Esteem 116

Chapter 16 Rework Shame from Parents 121

Chapter 17 Rework Later Shame Programming 125

Chapter 18 Soften Body Shame 129

Chapter 19 Loving the Body 133

Chapter 20 Healing Inner Dialogue 136

Chapter 21 Disconnect from Memory’s Quicksand 140

Chapter 22 How Would the World Be Different? 146

Chapter 23 Prepare for the Return of Shame 150

Moving Forward

Chapter 24 Cultivate Self-Respect 154

Chapter 25 Forgive Old Wounds 166

Chapter 26 Feed the Soul 173

Chapter 27 Weave Joy into Your Life 180

Chapter 28 Create a New Future 185

Chapter 29 Conclusion 191

Appendix A Skills Record 194

Appendix B Shame Symptoms Inventory 197

Acknowledgments 205

Recommended Resources 207

References 215

Drawing on his own rich and diverse background and inspired by a variety of treatment approaches, Dr. Glenn Schiraldi has gifted the world a workbook that is destined to be an essential resource for those who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which includes nearly everyone. This engaging, accessible volume is filled with diverse, creative exercises that guide the reader to safely re-visit and heal the effects of the past on brain and body—all the while imparting hope and confidence that dreams of a future that is free of the constraints of the past can become a lived reality.
Pat Ogden, PhD, developer of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, author: Trauma and the Body and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment

About the Author

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Glenn R. Schiraldi, PhD, has served on the stress management faculties at The Pentagon, the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, and the University of Maryland, where he received the Outstanding Teacher Award in addition to other teaching/service awards. His books on stress-related topics have been translated into sixteen languages, and include The Resilience Workbook, The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook, and The Self-Esteem Workbook. The founder of Resilience Training International (, he has trained laypersons and clinicians around the world on various aspects of stress, trauma, and resilience.


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Editorial Reviews


“Glenn Schiraldi is one of the world’s most trusted experts on stress and resilience. His The Adverse Childhood Experiences Recovery Workbook is the most complete, accessible, and evidence-based healing resource available. The ripples of childhood trauma spread throughout our society affecting every facet of life. Thanks to Schiraldi’s stellar work, there is a now a trusted map to recovery available for lay people and helping professionals alike. This workbook is a game changer with the power to heal lives. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”
—Joan Borysenko, PhD, distinguished pioneer in integrative medicine; and New York Times bestselling author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind

“Glenn Schiraldi’s The Adverse Childhood Experiences Recovery Workbook shines a light on the realities of toxic childhood stress and the many roads to recovery and joy. The book is a masterful piece. It is about managing and emerging from the traumatic challenges of childhood, and the true genius of Schiraldi becomes quite apparent. Gems of guidance in a step-by-step program of recovery for survivors.”
—Charles R. Figley, PhD, director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute, Dr. Paul Henry Kurzweg chair and distinguished professor of disaster mental health at Tulane University, and founding editor of the Journal of Traumatic Stress

“Childhood trauma can lead to a plethora of physical and mental health symptoms, which, if left unaddressed, can disrupt our ability to live satisfying lives or create loving relationships. However, there is hope, and Glenn Schiraldi’s workbook is an indispensable tool for trauma recovery. He has an exceptional ability to translate complex topics into accessible and tangible tools for healing. If you are looking for an exquisite blend of science and compassion, you have come to the right place. I highly recommend this book.”
—Arielle Schwartz, PhD, clinical psychologist, and author of The Complex PTSD Workbook and The Post-Traumatic Growth Guidebook

“A gifted teacher and author of numerous workbooks and sourcebooks on mental health and personal growth, Glenn Schiraldi has penned a culminating work of deep healing. TheAdverse Childhood Experiences Recovery Workbook seamlessly combines insights and exercises from three burgeoning fields: adverse childhood experiences, trauma therapy, and attachment. Both accessible and comprehensive, it is a resource for clinicians and a gift for all who live with emotional wounds.”
—Hugh K. Marr, PhD, clinical psychologist, author of A Clinician’s Guide to Foundational Story Psychotherapy, and coauthor of What Story Are You Living?

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Recovery Workbook offers a much-needed treasure trove of meaningful trauma-healing strategies that are certain to further many along the road to resilience. Bravo!”
—Donna Jackson Nakazawa, award-winning science journalist, and author of Childhood Disrupted

“Glenn Schiraldi is offering real solutions and strategies for relief and healing that can truly help those of us who are most in need. He has taken important research and time-tested methods, and created user-friendly tools so that we can help ourselves recover from the effects of childhood trauma and negative experiences. This is more than a book: this is a source of guidance for how to experience the truth of the preciousness of your life—guidance we have been waiting for.”
—Cindy Browning, LCSW, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) practitioner

“Bravo, Schiraldi! The Adverse Childhood Experiences Recovery Workbook carefully guides survivors through the process of understanding and healing from childhood wounds. It is carefully organized to maximize skills learning and practice, and to minimize potential overwhelm when confronting painful feelings and memories. After working through behavior generated from past experiences, the workbook also helps users apply these learnings to disturbing recent or current events. Designed for independent ‘self-help,’ some survivors may choose to use this comprehensive adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) recovery workbook in the context of a therapeutic relationship.”
—Esther Giller, president of the Sidran Institute

“As one who has treated trauma for many years, I have always thought that what happens in our childhood directly impacts our mental and physical health in the now. I recommend Glenn Schiraldi’s workbook to educate you about the impact of ACEs on your present well-being, and the many effective paths to heal those hidden wounds from earlier times that still affect you.”
—Laney Rosenzweig, MS, LMFT, developer of accelerated resolution therapy (ART)

“An integrative approach to healing from traumatic stress that targets mind, brain, body, and soul, this workbook will be an important resource for many who struggle with the lasting imprints of adverse early experiences.”
—Ruth A. Lanius, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry, Harris-Woodman Chair in Mind-Body Medicine, and director of the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) research unit at the University of Western Ontario

“Glenn Schiraldi has provided a much-needed guide for those who have experienced childhood maltreatment in one form or another. He painstakingly discusses in easy-to-understand terms the psychological and medical consequences of early-life trauma, and outlines a series of interventions ranging from trauma-focused therapy to nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness/meditation. This will be helpful to patients, families, and students, as well as the broad spectrum of mental health professionals who deal with adult victims of childhood maltreatment daily.”
—Charles B. Nemeroff, MD, PhD, Matthew P. Nemeroff Endowed Chair in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences, and director of the Institute for Early Life Adversity Research at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School --This text refers to the paperback edition.
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