Are You Coping With Trauma?
It's possible you are reading this page thinking you may be a trauma survivor, but are not certain. Here are a few signs that you may have experienced psychological trauma:
Hyperarousal, i.e. permanent alert status
Physical symptoms, such as darting eyes, racing heart, sweaty palms, rapid breathing, stomach pain
Difficulty sleeping out of a hyper-alert state of fear
Irritable to small provocations with frequent fight/flight/freeze responses
A feeling of detachment, emotional numbness
Poor memory of childhood that makes it hard to piece together early events
Or acute patches of recall that can be triggering, especially if there's a reminder in the present moment
The common denominators are that the trauma survivor feels intense fear, helplessness, a lost sense of control as if the world is going off the rails. It can feel like you and the world are careening with no one at the wheel.
Another common experience of childhood trauma is that you can recall a time when you believed the world was a kind and safe place, that you were worthy of good treatment and of receiving love and care. Then, out of nowhere, trauma struck, whether that be physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or any shock to your cozy sense of childhood safety. You may possibly recall the transition into vulnerability, lost meaning, a sense that life was forever going to be unfair, unjust.
It was as if the bottom had dropped out.
Often trauma survivors can recall the before and after—but just as often, there is amnesia. In some cases, the trauma may have occurred too early for you to have developed an early sense of safety at all. Regardless, you may feel ashamed, different from others, or inherently bad. You may even feel a need to hide your real self for fear of being disliked or judged. It's difficult to feel good or experience joy.
If you are living with emotional trauma, you will likely know because your relationships suffer, your fundamental belief system is tainted, and your self-esteem is in the basement. Even if you are used to feeling this way and have a hard time identifying what you need in life, it's likely that you are aware that you could feel so much better.
If you could just cure the sense of fear and foreboding, and the reactions resulting from trauma, you could embrace life in ways you have long doubted were possible.
Living With Trauma Is All Too Common
Many trauma survivors feel misunderstood, or as if the world is a hostile place. They see other people as being quicker to smile and laugh—individuals who aren't fearful and apprehensive. Unfortunately, many people have suffered traumatic experiences. You could have a colleague or friend who has received trauma therapy, and for that reason seems more carefree. Others may have containment strategies that make their trauma less obvious.
Either way, do not be discouraged by the idea that no one will understand or care for you if the "real you" is revealed. I am a professional, here to help you find a new path, and there are many survivors who can relate to you, even if they do not reveal themselves at first glance.
The world can be a frightening place, and many have experienced trauma. However, the world can also be an inviting, embracing, delightful place, and the goal in my work is to help you trust again so you can experience day-to-day life with pleasure and hope, rather than fear and dread.
There Is A Way To Heal Through Trauma Therapy
I can recognize the trauma survivor. As a trained therapist, I will see what you're going through, and I can help. A central theme in trauma recovery is to empower the survivor. “Trauma robs the victim of a sense of power and control; the guiding principal of recovery is to restore power and control to the survivor.” ( Hermann, 1992) My therapeutic model of trauma recovery unfolds in three phases. First, I help you establish a sense of safety, physically, emotionally and mentally.
The second phase of Trauma Recovery is termed remembrance and mourning: I offer you a safe space to process the trauma and retell the trauma story. You will develop the inner resources to rescue yourself. This work takes courage, but I will be with you at every moment, ready to slow things down or keep progressing as you feel safe to do so.
The third phase is termed reconnection with ordinary life. The work we do in session is profoundly in the service of reconnection. It's my job to make sure you feel empowered to do a lot of the work yourself, as author of your own recovery. You will never feel like you're working in isolation; I am here to assist in your growth and recovery. But it is important that I help you gain a sense of agency.
Some techniques in trauma recovery will involve differentiation between real threats and perceived ones. The conundrum is that the brain tells the body that real and perceived threats are one and the same. The frontal lobe goes "offline' and brain goes into flight, fright, or freeze mode.
To address these trauma symptoms, we work on developing a sense of safety, using techniques such as grounding, which will help you stay in the present moment rather than spacing out. I will also teach you breathing and relaxation techniques that you can utilize when you are triggered.
My ultimate goal throughout therapy is to give my trauma clients the opportunity to learn to trust again. I am very rewarded by being entrusted to bear witness to trauma as we collaborate on healing, growing, and creating a rich and satisfying life. As we resurrect the past, we also release it, freeing you to live a life you only imagined. I will guide you with patience and active listening.
You Might Be Nearly Ready To Seek Help, But Have Concerns
I don't want to re-experience the trauma.
It's not uncommon to fear getting stuck again by "reliving" the traumatic experience or experiences. I can see how that would be frightening for you. All I expect in trauma therapy is a willingness to trust. I will be there with you, holding your hand if needed, as we travel through the experience together. Imagine that we are both passengers on a train, viewing the same landscape. I will be bearing witness, without stopping the narrative, as you describe that landscape.
The potential reward? A completely improved, show-stopping, amazing quality of life not hobbled by fear.
I am afraid I won't be believed.
I do believe you. You wouldn't be here, reading this, if trauma wasn't what you had experienced. It's possible you weren't believed in the past; that's because of others' limitations, not yours. Perhaps a need for secrecy by the party or parties you confided in made you feel invalidated. That is unfortunate, a failing on their part, and not at all your fault.
You will be heard and your feelings validated in session with me as we move through the steps of healing.
I appear like I have it all together and can't risk people seeing the real me.
Ah. The unseen riches that await those who do the work. As we build trust, I accept you exactly as you are right now. I appreciate the defenses and containments that made you a survivor. I credit you for standing upright and being where you are.
However, it is mistaken beliefs that keep that façade intact. I am here to help you help yourself, and guide you toward new meanings and new trust. My aim in therapy is to bring you more contentment and positive self-regard than that façade ever could.
A Rich, Rewarding, Satisfying Life Awaits You
Are you ready to embark on a life that is free from trauma? If you are ready to take the next step, please call me at my office (863) 206-2692 or contact me through this website to schedule a consultation.
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