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Are You Dealing with Trauma and/or 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 often involve the loss of your sense of safety in the world.

Have you experienced difficulties with subtle injustices, experienced emotional neglect in the past or present with family or loved ones, and/or felt emotionally disconnected from your partner?  These are examples of “Little t” traumatic events, which are more subtle and can lead to a “Big T” trauma.

Experiencing traumatic events can be life-altering.  People who survive trauma find their lives are impacted in several ways: feeling emotionally overloaded, experiencing panic attacks, avoiding people, places, and events that feel triggering, experiencing symptoms of dissociation (feeling numb, detached, disconnected), being hyper-vigilant of your surroundings, isolating and feeling lonely, inability to trust others and a felt experience of unsafety when not directly under threat. Other symptoms may include:

  • Disturbing memories or flashbacks of what happened
  • Anxiety, worry, fear, or phobia(s)
  • Feeling numb, distant, or distracted from daily life events
  • Getting stuck in negative feelings and thoughts
  • Re-living events as though they are happening in the present
  • Physical symptoms – headaches, stomachaches, racing heart, sweating, panic, numbness or tingling, dizziness
  • Experiencing nightmares or night terrors

Dissociation is a symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).  Just like our country needs the military as a defense, our mind needs defenses when a devastating and/or life-threatening event has been experienced.

Symptoms of dissociation:

Do you sometimes feel on autopilot, numb, detached, or disconnected?  Do you do things and not remember how they happened (find yourself at home after leaving a place, unaware 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)?

We utilize the Structural Dissociation model to assess the level you dissociate and work toward reintegration and healing to allow you to feel more connected and whole within.

What kind of treatment options exist for what I have experienced?

Several types of therapeutic treatments can help one heal from trauma:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Aaron Beck first developed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. 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 from 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.
  • Brain Spotting: This is a brain-based therapeutic model. The known motto for Brain Spotting is, “Where you look affects how you feel” (David Grand). This model holds a comprehensive understanding of the brain and how it stores unprocessed information that leads to PTSD or C-PTSD. This therapeutic process allows for rapid processing of stored traumatic information.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)– This therapy is an accelerated way of processing traumatic experiences using 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 for the entire duration of processing.  Traumatic memories tend to get “stuck” as sensory experiences.  For example, a particular 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 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
    • Different modalities of EMDR focus on specific symptoms, such as:
      • Desensitizing Triggers and Urge Reduction (DeTUR)
      • Feeling State Addiction Protocol (FSAP)
      • Flash Technique
      • Recent Traumatic Episode Protocol

The goal of each of these therapies is to heal from trauma and the devastating effects it has had on your life.  We utilize each approach as appropriate for your unique needs, as everyone experiences trauma differently. Healing is possible, and we can help guide you through the process.