Trauma & PTSD
Are You Dealing with Trauma & PTSD?
Have you experienced a natural disaster, sudden loss of a loved one, accident, physical/sexual assault, or witnessed violence? These are examples of “Big T” traumatic events. They are unexpected and usually involve the loss of your sense of safety in the world.
Have you experienced difficulties with bullies, been neglected or ignored by parents/loved ones, or feel emotionally disconnected from your partner? These are examples of “Little t” traumatic events, which are more subtle and can lead to Big T, but can also feel very uncomfortable.
Experiencing traumatic event(s) can be life-changing. People who survive trauma find their lives are altered in several ways: feeling emotionally overloaded often, experiencing panic attacks, dissociating, avoiding people or places that have felt triggering, feeling numb or disconnected, being hyper-aware of your surroundings, lonely or isolated, and feeling unsafe.
Do you experience:
- Disturbing memories of what happened
- Anxiety, worry, fear, or phobia(s)
- Feeling “numb” or dissociated (see below for a more thorough definition)
- Unable to move past negative feelings about an event
- Uncontrolled memories of the event that make you feel you are re-living it (these are called flashbacks)
- Physical symptoms – headaches, stomachaches, racing heart, sweating, panic, numbness or tingling, dizziness
- Avoiding people, places, or things that remind you of the trauma
You are NOT alone in your experience. We specialize in working with survivors of every kind of trauma and are able to come up with a unique treatment plan for you, as an individual, to heal from your experience.
Do you sometimes feel like you are on auto-pilot? Do you do things and not remember how they happened (find yourself at home after leaving a place, not aware of how you got there)? Do you have different sides of you that feel like separate people (the “young” one, the “weak” one, the “angry” one)? Do you frequently feel opposite extremes in relationships (feel very positive toward someone at one time, then very negative at another time)?
Dissociation is normal! Just like our country needs military as a defense, our mind needs defenses when it has been attacked by devastating life experiences.
What kind of treatment options exist for what I have experienced?
There are several types of therapeutic treatments that can help one heal from trauma:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was first developed by Aaron Beck. This approach is present-centered and directive. As we experience events in our lives, both positive and negative, we begin to internalize thoughts/beliefs about ourselves and the world around us, whether these are healthy or distorted. The goal of CBT is to challenge the distorted thoughts/beliefs that get in the way or hold us back from fulfilling our personal goals. Clinical studies have shown that CBT has positive outcomes for people who suffer with various levels of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, anger, chronic pain, phobias, and eating disorders. Other forms of CBT, such as Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), have been found to be useful for individuals who struggle with addiction/dependency and borderline personality disorder, respectively.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – This therapy is an accelerated way of processing traumatic experiences using what is called bilateral stimulation (BLS for short). BLS activates both sides of the brain by engaging both sides of the body. This can be eye movements, tapping, buzzers, or tones. It is not hypnosis, leaving you in control the entire duration of processing. Traumatic memories tend to get “stuck” as sensory experiences. For example, a certain smell or song may become a trigger to re-experience your traumatic event. If this occurs, you may notice increased anxiety, hypervigilant behavior, fight or flight reactions, or feeling frozen in place as you recall parts of the experience. EMDR works through these triggers so that the traumatic memory does not have negative, debilitating effects. EMDR does not change the memory, but it does make it tolerable. *Created by Francine Shapiro
There are different kinds of EMDR that focus on specific symptoms:
- Desensitizing Triggers and Urge Reduction (DeTUR) – This type of therapy addresses chemical (substances like prescription pills, cocaine, cigarettes etc.) or behavioral addiction (gambling) by using BLS to decrease the compulsion to use substances or continue a problematic behavior. *Developed by Arnold J. Popky
- Structural Dissociation Theory – As mentioned before, dissociation (detachment or disconnection) is normal, but at times can have a negative effect on your life. We can assess the level you dissociate and work toward reintegration and healing to allow you to feel complete and connected.
- Feeling State Addiction Protocol (FSAP)
The goal in each of these therapies is to heal from trauma and devastating effects it has had on your life. We utilize each approach as appropriate for your individual, unique needs as everyone experiences trauma in a different way. Healing is possible and we can help guide you through the process.