A lot of people know about some of the signs and symptoms of childhood abuse. Some of the signs are easy to recognize, while others may be more difficult to notice. Emotional neglect is also a form of abuse that can occur in the relationship of a parent or primary caregiver and their child.

Emotional neglect can form in a few different ways. When a child doesn’t feel like they’re receiving love or when they don’t have the support they need in challenging times. It can also occur when a child doesn’t feel like they’re receiving enough love, attention, or validation.

Emotional neglect isn’t something that forms overnight, which means that overcoming the feelings, thoughts, and emotions associated with this type of neglect will take some time. Emotional neglect is something that can carry with someone into their adulthood.

Let’s learn more about some of the signs of emotional neglect and how to deal with it.

The Signs of Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect is known as a form of trauma. This is mostly due to the long-lasting effects and impact it can have on someone’s overall mental health and wellness. Let’s dive deeper into some of the signs of emotional neglect.

Difficulty Managing Emotions

Someone who has a hard time managing their own emotions or finding ways to express themselves and how they’re feeling may have struggled with emotional neglect. Emotions that are experienced may be hard to describe. People who have difficulty in this area tend to use a few words to express how they’re feeling, like “happy,” “sad,” or “okay.” You may be confused about feeling a certain way instead of allowing yourself to feel and acknowledge your feelings. And if others share how they’re feeling with you, you may also have difficulty responding to them.

photo of a woman who's face is covered by her hair as she leans forward crying into her hand

Lack of Self-Compassion

While you may have empathy and compassion for other people in your life, you don’t give yourself the same grace. You tend to hold yourself to higher standards and critiques. When it comes to yourself, you have a hard time showing yourself grace, forgiveness, or patience.

Unhealthy Relationships

Unhealthy relationships are common in individuals who have experienced emotional neglect. These individuals tend to stay in unhealthy relationships where they’re not respected or even abused. This is all based on your feelings towards yourself. There is a lack of self-worth, insecurity, and doubt.


Individuals who have gone through emotional neglect tend to blame themselves for any negative events that occur in their lives, even if they know that it’s not their fault. If you catch yourself constantly berating yourself and beating yourself up over both big and little negative events, it could be a sign that you experienced emotional neglect. Emotions are completely healthy and normal. Emotional neglect can make it feel like you’re not supposed to feel anything, but that’s not the case. Emotional neglect can bring on the sensation that something is wrong with you and that you’re different from your friends and family even though you can’t control what was done in your past.

How to Deal with Emotional Neglect

While you may not be able to control what happened in your past, you can take control of your future. Healing from emotional neglect takes time, but it is possible to heal and move forward. While seeking support from a licensed and trained mental health professional is encouraged, there are lifestyle changes that you can implement and make on your own end to help kickstart the healing process.

  • Acknowledge how you’re feeling
  • Create a list of your wants, needs, likes, and dislikes
  • Learn more about being assertive
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Set boundaries and stick to them

If you’re interested in learning more about how to deal with emotional neglect, reach out to us today to set up a consultation for trauma therapy.

About the author(s)

Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.

About Cohesive Therapy NYC

At Cohesive Therapy NYC, we believe that you have an immense amount of inner strength and resilience, even if it is yet to be discovered. Cohesive Therapy NYC is a private group psychotherapy practice in New York City that focuses on treating adults who struggle with Anxiety, Trauma, Chronic Illness, and the adult impact of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Cohesive Therapy NYC therapists see clients all throughout New York State (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, and statewide) using online therapy and are also available for in-person visits in their NYC offices, located at 59 East 54th Street, New York, NY 10022. We specialize in helping people who are dealing with anxiety, relationship issues, chronic illness, and digestive and adult trauma related to childhood family dynamics. We all deserve a chance to be well and have support.