Is A Traumatic Experience Keeping You Stuck In Emotional Pain?
Are you trying to process a traumatic event—such as a serious injury, physical or sexual violence, or the death of a loved one—and feel alone, isolated, and misunderstood? Despite your efforts to avoid thinking about what happened, are you bombarded by intrusive thoughts and distressing memories? Would you like to heal from your ordeal and forge a hopeful path forward?
If you have suffered trauma, you may find yourself reliving the emotional pain over and over again, unable to shake free from its hold. A sight, sound, or passing thought that triggers your memory may result in a flashback that brings you back to a terrifying moment you would rather forget. Or perhaps disturbing nightmares wake you at night, instantly jolting you from sleep into heart-racing panic.
Because you no longer feel safe in most situations, you may have become hypervigilant and overly watchful. As you struggle to stay present, the emotional exhaustion you experience from always being on guard leaves you feeling drained and, oftentimes, fearful and untrusting.
Unresolved Trauma May Be Causing You To Doubt Yourself
Even though it’s clear that your body recalls the trauma you experienced on a cellular level, it’s possible that on a conscious level, you can’t recall certain details of the event. This conundrum might disorient you, making it difficult to concentrate, trust your decisions, or feel comfortable in the company of others.
Sadly, you may blame yourself for what happened and be racked with guilt, shame, or anger. At times, you may feel like you’ve been irreparably damaged and that you are no longer the person you used to be.
After a traumatic event occurs, it’s common to wish you could return to your “old self”—the carefree person you were before the event. And while treatment cannot erase the memory completely, therapy can help you overcome the debilitating symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), allowing you to ease your emotional load and live more peacefully.
If Left Unprocessed, Trauma Can Develop Into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
All of us will encounter trauma in some form or another throughout our lives—it’s an unfortunate aspect of being human. However, not everyone develops PTSD following a traumatic experience. Although acute symptoms are likely to occur directly after an event, these symptoms usually dissipate over time. However, if recovery gets stalled or symptoms accumulate to the point of being chronic, it may be time to seek treatment for PTSD.
What Is The Difference Between PTSD And A More Generalized Trauma Response?
Ordinarily, PTSD is caused when someone witnesses or directly experiences a traumatic event, learns about the trauma of a loved one, or experiences repeated or extreme exposure to trauma through their job, which is often the case for first responders and other professionals who are exposed to life-or-death situations daily. The impact of a traumatic experience greatly depends on the severity of the situation in addition to our predisposed personal risk factors, such as an individual or familial history of mental health issues.
Understandably, we may not want to think about or discuss our experience, but avoidance leads to isolation. Avoidance may work for managing symptoms in the short term, but the longer the trauma festers under the surface without acknowledgment or treatment, the longer the healing process will take, and the more likely that a clinical diagnosis of PTSD will develop.
PTSD Treatment Can Help You Heal From Your Trauma
If you have lived with PTSD for an extended period, you may have grown accustomed to feeling like you are under constant threat. Although therapy cannot change what happened, you can restore your well-being when your body and mind acknowledge that the danger is over and it’s possible to feel safe again.
By being mindful of anything that could potentially retraumatize you, therapy will be a safe place for you to unpack the heavy burden you have been carrying. Working slowly and safely in PTSD treatment, I will learn more about your trauma history and tailor care to meet your unique needs. As you develop lasting and meaningful coping skills, you will gain adaptability and resilience that will help diminish your symptoms and build self-confidence.
What To Expect In Sessions
Our initial goals of PTSD treatment will be to identify and reduce your most severe symptoms by improving your self-awareness and challenging your beliefs that reinforce negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Over time, you will learn to tolerate the uncertainty and ambivalence you may be experiencing that is related to the trauma.
Under normal circumstances, it’s common to experience PTSD symptoms immediately after a traumatic event and it usually takes a few months to recover. However, when PTSD persists, it’s important to determine what has interfered with the normal process of recovery or resilience. For example, avoidant behaviors can often delay the emotional processing necessary for trauma recovery.
Because of how our bodies naturally react to trauma, it can be useful to think of PTSD as a breakdown of the brain’s natural healing processes rather than the development of a unique pathological issue. In acknowledging the time and dedicated work it takes to recover from a traumatic event, you can view psychotherapy as an opportunity to become “unstuck” and resume a healthy recovery process.
With this in mind, I am likely to draw from a few highly effective trauma-informed therapy models in the treatment of PTSD. For example, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a structured, 12-session approach that has been widely validated as a helpful model for treating PTSD. In addition, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is useful for challenging the cognitive distortions often created by trauma, and a person-centered, psychodynamic approach will encourage deeper trust and self-awareness.
Through these counseling methods, you can meaningfully challenge the beliefs and narratives reinforcing your symptoms of PTSD. Not only will you improve your self-reflection and daily functioning, but you will also learn to tolerate difficult emotions and resolve the inner conflict that has been perpetuated by trauma. By committing to ongoing treatment, you can improve your PTSD symptoms and earn to live with more peace and resilience.
Perhaps You’re Not Sure If Therapy Can Help You Overcome PTSD…
I am worried that therapy will force me to relive the trauma.
This is a common concern, and I understand how scary and upsetting it is to recall a traumatic experience. Perhaps you are afraid to stir up some of the feelings that accompanied the traumatic experience itself, and you’d rather avoid the topic altogether. However, avoidance is reinforcing some of your PTSD symptoms and hindering your ability to recover.
Despite what you may think, talking about your trauma with a therapist can help you feel better. As a trauma-informed therapist, I strive to be sensitive to your experience at all times and will take great care not to retraumatize you. We will move at a pace of your choosing that feels comfortable for you.
I’m afraid of being judged for what happened to me.
There may be aspects of your experience that are highly sensitive or have caused you to fear being judged. However, the trauma itself is likely perpetuating feelings of shame and embarrassment about what happened to you. You are always welcome to choose what you do and don’t share in therapy, and I promise to be open and nonjudgmental in our work together.
Many of my clients find that sharing details about their trauma in counseling actually reduces the shame they feel. By removing some of the power that trauma has taken, sharing allows you to free yourself from guilt, embarrassment, and shame.
A therapist won’t be able to make space for or “hold” the pain of my trauma.
Recitation and repetition of trauma diffuses its intensity. I believe that the more you speak about the trauma in treatment, the more likely you are to reduce symptoms of PTSD. I am a skilled and highly trained trauma-informed therapist, and my approach can promote deep, meaningful healing. You are not alone in your pain, and I would be honored to carry the burden of your trauma alongside you so that you can feel better.
Become Unstuck So You Can Feel Like Yourself Again
If trauma is not properly addressed or if the healing process is impeded, symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can develop. My trauma-informed approach to treatment can help you overcome PTSD and live with more resilience. I invite you to contact me to schedule an appointment or find out more about how therapy can help you recover from PTSD.