If you have experienced trauma in your life, you may continue to experience not only the psychological and emotional aftereffects of what occurred, you might find your physical health and interpersonal relationships being impacted as well. Although many of us are able to recover emotionally from accidents, assaults, and even abuse, some people will endure more long-term symptoms caused by trauma commonly known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It’s a common misconception that post-traumatic stress only happens with combat veterans and police officers, when in fact, more than 1 in 10 people who have survived trauma will experience post-traumatic symptoms. Much like a wound or injury that does not properly heal, these issues can create a great deal of pain and distress to those who are affected by them.
Sometimes, trauma can make us avoid certain things that remind us of what happened. For some people, their body’s stress response to possible threats or triggers make them react with an extreme state of alert or “hypervigilance” as a way to keep these threats away.
This hypervigilance is particularly heightened when those things “trigger” or initiate a flashback, where we relive those difficult experiences. Over time, these experiences can dramatically impact your mood and feelings of well being. Left untreated, these symptoms can dramatically affect your health, your relationships, your career, and your life.
Getting loved ones to understand your experience can be isolating, frustrating and can leave you feeling ashamed or as if you are the only person who feels the way that you feel. Even the most well-meaning family member or friend can leave you feeling invalidated, as they try to make you “feel better”, but instead, you end up feeling that they don’t want to listen to you or that you are burdening them with your problems.
You don’t need to have the extreme or long-term symptoms of PTSD in order to experience symptoms of trauma, as these can look very similar to depression, anxiety or manifest themselves through physical or health issues. You may find that you are experiencing difficulty with sleeping through the night, concentrating on daily tasks, avoiding certain situations or non-stop thinking about them.
If you are experiencing any of these warning signs after a traumatic life event, psychotherapy can help you learn the tools to lower your anxiety and fears around situations that are triggering.
How Will Therapy Help Me Recover From Trauma?
Therapy provides a safe, supportive, and confidential space for you to work towards healing.
You will have the chance to speak freely about yourself and your experiences, share your life story, and build trust at a pace that feels comfortable for you. We will use trauma-informed care to ensure that you feel safe and to decrease the effects of potential triggers that may be related to your trauma.
In our work together, you will be able to let us know what your goals are, or we can figure them out together. Many people have general goals, while others are much more specific:
I want to rediscover who I am without the fear and anxiety
I want to be able to be present without worrying about what may happen tomorrow
I want to feel motivated again
I want to understand where this came from and get over it!
I don’t want to depend on therapy forever and want to know how to cope on my own
I want to feel worthy of _________
I want to be able to be mindful and self-reflective without the negative thoughts that follow
I just want to get some sleep…
What are some treatment options for Trauma and PTSD?
Treatment for Trauma and PTSD can come in many forms, though most treatments tend towards cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT focuses on changing the thought patterns that are disturbing your life so you can work through your trauma and make a more constructive path forward.
A subset of CBT, TF-CBT is an evidence-based treatment that deals directly with the experiences of someone who has gone through trauma. It is usually a short-term therapeutic plan that can last between 8 and 25 sessions, and while it was developed originally for adolescents, works well with adults too. This type of therapy was first developed in the 1990s, and has grown in popularity since because of it’s evidence-based approach.
TF-CBT can help you identify the feelings that trauma causes you to experience, and can help with depression and anxiety related to traumatic experiences. By identifying the feelings your trauma has caused, we can work together to address and improve your symptoms. Talking with a therapist can be a great first step toward healing trauma.
Somatic Psychotherapy for Trauma
Somatic Psychotherapy is a blend of talk therapy and alternative forms of physical therapy. If this approach is right for beginning to heal your traumatic experiences, we would work together to revive memories and pay attention to the physical responses in your body while talking through the trauma. This therapy can be incorporated into dance, exercise, yoga, deep breathing, etc.
The thought behind somatic psychotherapy in treating trauma is that the mind, body, spirit, and emotions are all related. When you experience stress from past traumas, it can affect not only your emotions, but in some cases can create physical pain. Honing into your mind-body connection can help you release those feelings the trauma has caused and help you move forward towards healing it.
Brianspotting works on the concept that trauma is stored in the body and can have an effect on emotions, memory, and our physical health. In a session when using brainspotting, we would work together to reprocess traumatic experiences and emotional reactions. This type of therapy is especially suited to Trauma and PTSD, and can be particularly effective. Please click here to visit our Brainspotting specialty page to learn more.
Let’s get started on your healing journey
Living with the aftereffects of trauma or struggling with PTSD is difficult, but you are not alone and you don’t have to live this way forever. If you would like to talk through these experiences with a trained professional, our therapists are here for you.
Contact us today to set up a free 20-minute phone consultation and take that first step towards change.
Have questions about rates, insurance and what to expect in therapy?