Trauma & Resilience

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic negative experiences before age 18 that have long lasting effects on physical health, mental health and social well-being. Most people have at least one ACE.  ACEs are inter-generational. Parents who have more than 5 ACEs are 14 times more likely to have conditions that create ACEs for their children.

Resilience helps to counteract the effects of ACEs on the brain and body. Resilience is the ability to become strong, healthy and successful again after something bad happens. We are all born with resilience and it can be learned and developed at any age. Evidence shows that early experiences, both positive and negative, are critical in building and shaping how the brain develops.



The first large-scale population study which linked Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, to poor adult health outcomes, published in 1998, was conducted by a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente. The study compared 10 categories of negative childhood experiences to a long list of poor health outcomes which includes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and even depression. 

The study revealed that ACEs are incredibly common, 64% of the participants experienced at least 1 ACE. The study also discovered that the more ACEs a person had the higher their risk for health complications throughout life. 

The 10 ACE categories studied do not account for all possible types of childhood adversity.



  1. Physical
  2. Emotional
  3. Sexual


  1. Physical
  2. Emotional

HOUSEHOLD Challenges

  1. Parental divorce or separation
  2. Witnessing household violence
  3. Incarcerated household member
  4. Household substance abuse
  5. Household mental illness


The Snohomish County Health Department regularly offers public screenings of the documentary Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope.

Request a screening by completing the online form.

Seeking additional support?

For 24-hour emotional support and help connecting with a mental health provider call the Washington Recovery Help Line at 1-866-789-1511

For suicide prevention call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255