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    Therapy for Trauma

    Most people will experience trauma in their lifetime whether it’s a car accident, abuse or neglect, the sudden death of a loved one, a violent criminal act, exposure to the violence of war, or a natural disaster.

    While many people can recover from trauma over time with the love and support of family and friends and bounce back with resiliency, others may discover effects of lasting trauma, which can cause a person to live with deep emotional pain, fear, confusion, or posttraumatic stress far after the event has passed.

    Have you or a loved one experienced something painful and unexpected, disturbing or life-threatening?  Do the memories of what happened keep coming back  and get in the way of your daily routine– nightmares, flashbacks, reliving the pain – no matter how hard you try to forget? Are you constantly feeling anxious and on high alert, unable to relax and rest?  

    If so, you might be suffering from the effects of trauma.

    Do I need therapy for trauma?

    When we hear the word trauma, we tend to think about military veterans, survivors of horrific accidents, and PTSD.  Because of this, we might dismiss our experiences of trauma and try to ignore the pain we carry.  However, trauma can happen to anyone – and so many people are affected by it.  

    Some of the most common causes of trauma include: 

    • Experiencing, witnessing, or being threatened with an act of abuse or violence
    • Surviving a natural disaster (fire, flood, storm etc)
    • Being the victim of a crime 
    • Vehicular accidents 
    • Serious medical issues or illness
    • Responding to accidents, violence or crisis on the job (e.g. first responders, law enforcement, military and medical personnel)
    • Military combat
    • Sudden loss or death of a loved one (also considered Grief Therapy)
    • Vicarious or secondary trauma (hearing about trauma and experiencing symptoms as a result)

    Most people will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives. Some trauma survivors will develop emotional or psychological difficulties. In these circumstances, the support, guidance, and assistance of a therapist is fundamental to healing from trauma.

    Trauma Symptoms

    Avoidance Symptoms

    • Avoiding specific locations, sights, situations, and sounds that serve as reminders of the event
    • Anxiety, depression, numbness, or guilt

    Re-experiencing Symptoms

    • Intrusive thoughts, nightmares or flashbacks

    Hyperarousal Symptoms

    • Anger, irritability, and hypervigilance
    • Aggressive, reckless behavior, including self-harm
    • Sleep disturbances

    Negative Mood and Cognition Symptoms

    • Loss of interest in activities that were once considered enjoyable
    • Difficulty remembering details of the distressing event
    • Change in habits or behavior since the trauma

    Research has proven psychotherapy to be the most effective form of treatment for trauma. Most commonly, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), Trauma Focused Therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Somatic Experiencing, Narrative Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based CBT Therapy are used in treating trauma.

    One Way Trauma Develops

    If you experienced developmental trauma in childhood, you may not even be aware that some of your mental health issues are related to your early history. Developmental trauma can result from things like emotional neglect, physical or sexual abuse, shame, overly critical parents, being told you were not wanted, childhood medical issues, not being held enough in infancy, and many other difficult early childhood experiences.

    Early childhood trauma experiences can impact you whether or not you remember them, affecting your health and immune system and triggering anxiety or mood swings. Developmental trauma is psychologically similar to the trauma experienced in post-traumatic stress disorder. If you struggle with developmental or psychological trauma, you may feel like you are constantly being rejected.

    How can therapy for trauma help?

    The human mind is designed to learn and remember.  This is particularly true of emotionally charged memories.  We remember first kisses, graduation ceremonies, weddings really well because of the strong feelings that came with it.  However, this also applies to disturbing and painful events.  No matter how hard you try to forget, the memories flood back as a constant reminder of what happened.  Your thoughts and feelings are instantly triggered by sounds, sights, and smells that bring up the trauma.  The fight, flight or freeze response can sometimes be so strongly activated that you might feel a loss of self-control as you react with anger, aggression, or fear.  

    Those intense feelings of fear, anger, and disgust cause intense emotional pain.  In many ways, trauma acts much like an injury or wound—if it is not treated properly you will continue to experience pain until you receive the right care.

    Posttraumatic stress, then, is a sign of improper healing. The mind tries to make sense of what happened, but the healing process is interrupted by flashbacks, thoughts and reactions related to the trauma. The trauma continues to cause pain and stress long after the actual event that caused it took place.

    This is why therapy for trauma (also called trauma counseling or trauma therapy) is the first line of treatment for posttraumatic stress.  Therapy provides a chance to revisit the hurt in a safe, healthy manner. You get to explore and understand what happened and begin to set things straight again, all at your own pace.  Your mind and body get a chance to work through what happened, pick up the pieces, and prepare for the life ahead.  You can learn better ways of coping with life’s stressors, develop new perspectives (about yourself and about the trauma), and rebuild your sense of normalcy.  

     Therapy for trauma can help you:

    • Accept your emotions and learn how to cope
    • Reconnect with your body and be present
    • Rebuild relationships and feelings of trust
    • Learn relaxation techniques and improve sleep
    • Manage flashbacks and nightmares
    • Feel confident and self-aware
    • Move forward from the past and experience growth

    Not everyone affected by posttraumatic stress will meet criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Regardless, symptoms of posttraumatic stress can ruin relationships, damage careers, and dampen your quality of life.  If you or a loved one have been experiencing any of these signs of posttraumatic stress or may have PTSD, don’t wait. Contact us today to get the help you deserve.

    There is hope! If you or a loved one have been experiencing any of these symptoms of posttraumatic stress or may have PTSD, don’t wait. We have trauma certified professionals who are confident that we can provide the help you deserve.

    We invite you to make contact today for a free consultation or appointment.

    “You may not control all of the events that happen to you, but you can decide not be reduced by them.” Maya Angelou