Has A Traumatic Experience Had A Negative Effect On Your Life?
Do you find yourself feeling more depressed, unsure of yourself, or fearful than normal? Are you anxiously trying to avoid painful reminders or experiencing flashbacks? Do you question whether you can ever be known and accepted by others? Maybe you worry about your past to the point where you lose sleep over it.
The effects of trauma may have caused unusual emotional reactions. Do you experience mood swings more often now? Do your emotions feel overwhelming or, conversely, muted?
Perhaps you’ve started to feel like your life is inauthentic. You may feel disconnected from yourself despite being able to perform everyday functions. And it’s possible you no longer find joy in your work and hobbies, leaving you feeling aimless.
Maybe you’re finding it much more difficult to connect with others. You may hide your emotions or thoughts from them because you fear how they’ll react. Or you might say and do things you don’t really agree with because that’s easier than being the ‘real you.’ It’s possible you’ve even started denying your own self-care in order to focus on the needs of others, leaving you feeling burnt out, alone or resentful.
You might even get to the point where you believe that you don’t deserve happiness. While you may want to connect with your feelings and live authentically, you’re just not sure how.
A Surprising Number Of Individuals Have Experienced Some Sort Of Trauma
The problems associated with trauma can vary depending on how it was experienced. Single event traumas are those in which a person experiences something terrifying that has a clear start and end—for example, a car crash or physical assault. These often result in what we understand as PTSD and for which we have excellent treatments.
The other, less well understood trauma results from an accumulation of stressful experiences, sometimes with no clear start or end. These are commonly experienced within a toxic relationship or poor family life. This is sometimes referred to as ‘complex trauma’—a relatively new diagnosis that was recognized by the World Health Organization in August 2018. Often the origin can be traced to a childhood or adult relationship in which there was physical or emotional abuse or neglect, and can cause problems despite other apparent successes.
Oftentimes these experiences can cause a person to lose confidence in their ‘self’ and in their perceptions. Depending on the circumstances, they may find it hard to trust their feelings or the people around them. Instead of working through these problems they may avoid them with distracting activities, risky behavior, or medication.
But I want you to know that those beliefs and frightening feelings—which make sense given your experiences—might not be the most helpful things to hold on to going forward. You are stronger, more valuable and better than you think you are. With therapy, you can learn to let go of any influence the past might hold on your current life and reconnect to others and yourself on a more meaningful level.
Trauma Therapy Can Help You Heal
Therapy is helpful because it allows you to identify and understand beliefs that may no longer serve you well. It may have made sense to hide your true self from people in the past, but doing so now might be keeping you cut off. Talking about them can release the burden from your body and reframe these beliefs in a more positive way.
I offer a safe environment where you can express your thoughts and problems. Working together we can form more helpful and meaningful ways of engaging with people and our self.
My approach is very client-centered. This is because I believe it is important for people to have control over their therapy experience. You will be involved in every step of the process, and we will move at the pace that’s most comfortable for you.
Our first session will involve an interview focusing on your key concerns. After this I will ask about several broad areas of your life—such as upbringing, work history, relationships and interests—to better understand your story. Then I will ask you to fill out an assessments form at home and return it to me. With some objective information from the assessments we will jointly develop a plan on what to tackle.
When I work with individuals suffering from traumatic experiences, only a minority of the work is focused on the past. Should we need to revisit a painful past experience, we will do so in a very calm and safe manner—using things such as relaxation techniques or written and picture story-telling—to make revisiting painful events as stress-free as possible.
At other times, we might engage in what I call ‘pattern breaking’. This is where we look at patterns in your life now that create problems. For example, a person who is distrustful might not share certain things about themselves. Breaking this habit, in appropriate circumstances, is something that will provide a ‘corrective emotional experience’—that is, the experience of sharing oneself and receiving acceptance and validation, which is incredibly important on the road to recovery.
I use a wide variety of strategies because each client’s story is unique. Many individuals enjoy schema therapy because it looks at the big picture and really makes sense of their history and difficulties. Additionally, I may use STAIR (Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation) Therapy to help get to the root of the issue. We may also do chair dialogues, depending on your need and how comfortable you are with the idea.
I have been helping individuals deal with trauma, abuse and neglect for almost 20 years. I am a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP) and feel great joy in helping people let go of harmful past experiences. I know very well just how difficult trauma can be to deal with—and also how possible healing is.
You may still have some reservations about trauma therapy…
I don’t want to revisit painful memories.
Everyone struggles with talking about a traumatic experience, and that’s okay. I will never pressure you into talking about something before you are ready. In fact, we may have to touch on painful events very little—only enough to know how it’s affecting your present day life. If we do decide to revisit painful events, we will prepare thoroughly and you will be walked through options and understand how doing so will help. Furthermore, we will only do this if we both agree you are ready.
I’m not sure trauma therapy will help.
A professor once said to me about trauma that, “the very thing we run from is the very thing that will heal us.” Trauma begins with a fearful event but extends into a fear of the feelings. Being able to calmly discuss painful times in a supportive environment can help you obtain an entirely new perspective and find compassion for yourself.
I’m worried you’ll think I’m a bad person.
Fear, or shame, is a core part of traumatic experiences—it can lead you to believe you are a far worse person than you really are. I am not here to judge you. We’re all human, and I am here to accept you as you are and help you figure out how to heal.
Trauma Therapy Can Help You Reconnect With Yourself
If you would like to learn more, I offer a free phone consultation at 936-444-6710. With my help, you can start working through your trauma symptoms and find that sense of connection you so desire.