Are You a Trauma Survivor Who Feels Unable to Find Peace?
Are you plagued by memories of a deeply distressing or life-threatening experience? Although it’s been months, years or decades, do you still feel as though the danger, abuse or neglect is happening in the present or waiting just around the corner? You may feel compelled to stay alert, even though this hyper-vigilance leaves you on edge, irritable and exhausted throughout the day. It may be that you’re flooded with looping, intrusive thoughts and feelings about the trauma without warning, especially when you try to relax or close your eyes to sleep. Perhaps it’s extremely difficult to engage in your career, relationships or passions because you struggle with destabilizing flashbacks, eroded trust and general unease. Maybe you’ve tried everything you can think of to protect yourself and/or move on from the past, but it feels as though you’re spinning your wheels and falling into the same unhealthy patterns. Do you feel stuck, scared and out of control? Do you wish you could let go of the past, foster healthy relationships and habits and move forward into a freer, lighter life?
Following a trauma, many people struggle with feelings of guilt, shame and self-blame. It’s common to believe your pain is your fault or a sign of weakness and to think you should be able to get over it on your own. In an attempt to find relief, you might be relying on alcohol or substances to get through the day and fall asleep at night. Perhaps you struggle to see the good in the world and the people in it, and you perceive failures and negative intentions in almost everyone around you. Maybe you often feel angry and frustrated with other people’s problems, and you lash out when others don’t seem to understand or support you. You may find it difficult to manage your emotions or control your reactions, even though later you regret having an outburst or retreating from confrontation. And, you may feel stuck in a pattern of self-sabotaging, self-destructing and hurting others, even those you love the most. It may seem as though you have nowhere to turn for even a moment’s peace.
Trauma Can Take Many Forms
Throughout our lives, we all have experiences that help shape us and give rise to purpose and meaning. Sometimes, these experiences are painful – so painful, in fact, that we are affected in a way that stops our emotional growth and momentum forward. The word “trauma” describes these kind of experiences or situations that are emotionally painful and distressing, and that may overwhelm our ability to cope, and in a sense, leave us powerless. These experiences may seem commonplace to some for example, the death of a loved one, a car accident, or significant losses because of financial recession. And of course, for some groups of people, trauma can occur so frequently that it becomes part of common experience, especially in cases of ongoing war or violence in a community, child abuse of any kind and domestic violence. When we become stuck in the trauma because we’re re-living the original situation, refusing to make decisions because of fear and anger or shrinking our life experience to stay safe, effectively cutting out the rest of the world, we are experiencing what professionals call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD symptoms, over time, affect everyone and everything around you, including spouses, family and work performance. They can make you feel lost, damaged, abandoned and utterly alone.
In the United States, about eight percent of the population or about 26 million people are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This number does not include the many others who are experiencing the painful after effects of trauma without a full diagnosis. No matter what you’ve been through or how hopeless things might feel, you are not alone. And, with the help of an experienced therapist who specializes in treatment for PTSD, it is possible for you to stop reliving the pain of the past, take control of your life and step into an empowered future.
Trauma Counseling Can Help You Live in the Present
Psychotherapy, in conjunction with SSRI medications, is highly effective in treating the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic experiences. For many, trauma therapy can offer a way to place the experience in a new context. For example, you can replace “It’s happening now” with “It happened in the past”. Medications provide the brain a buffer by reducing the anxiety, fear and other bigger responses to a moderate or mild level so that the therapy can move the original experience into the past. When we gain this context, we become able to accept and integrate our experiences, and life moves forward again. One of my favorite movie quotes from Steel Magnolias really applies here: That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.â€
My trauma therapy practice is always centered on your individual goals and objectives. I provide a safe and compassionate environment, and as your therapist, I use whatever resources and techniques are available to me to help you meet your goals. In other words, I am an eclectic psychotherapist, with training in numerous interventions and orientations, which allows me to tailor my approach to fit each person individually. Â That said, one of the most helpful tools in treating PTSD and traumatic experiences is hypnotherapyâ€”allowing patients a deeper healing treatment and, most often, more immediate results.
With compassionate support and guidance, you can start living life in healthier ways. You can develop the tools needed to cope with instead of avoid environmental triggers, identify your needs and get them met and choose new and healthy experiences that lead you further away from the experience causing you pain.
My professional experience with PTSD began back in 1992, working with adolescent children in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. My own personal experience began in 1975, as I witnessed my parents drinking spiral into alcoholism, neglect and domestic violence. As both a patient and provider of psychotherapy, growing from these challenges is important to me, and I know that healing is possible.
No matter what you have been through, you are made to survive and grow from your experience. I have witnessed many men and women overcome their dark traumatic experiences and move into the sun and thrive again. There are inner resources within and around you waiting to be tapped so that you can create the life you deserve.
You may believe that trauma counseling can help you find relief, but still have questions or concerns…
I believe my partner is suffering, but he or she won’t seek PTSD treatment.
If you are a spouse of someone experiencing PTSD symptoms, it can be very difficult to move your partner from denial to treatment. In the past, you may have believed it was easier to avoid or ignore the problem, but now you can’t imagine another moment living with your spouse’s symptoms or watching him or her suffer. The truth is, your spouse is likely hurting and scared, and may even believe that he or she deserves what is happening. Check out the resources listed at the end of this webpage or call our office for a free consultation.
I don’t want trauma counseling. It’s in the past, and I don’t want to talk about it anymore!
It is indeed in the past however not acknowledging the originating experience or pretending that your present life experience and your past experience aren’t related is not serving you. The effort expended to stay in denial is keeping you stuck. With help, you can harness that energy and direct it toward making real and positive life changes that can serve you now and throughout the future.
It is just too painful to even think about opening up and talking about that time in my life.
The fear and anxiety of talking about those originating experiences is normal and expected. Be assured that PTSD treatment with a competent and experienced professional allows for the unfolding and opening up about your life at a pace that is safe and compassionate. Give yourself permission to grow from these life challenges and live your best life today.
I invite you to email me for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about trauma counseling and my practice.