WHAT DO YOU MEAN TRAUMA?
Trauma includes a wide variety of significantly distressful experiences people endure at any point in their lives. A traumatic event may include physical or sexual abuse, or experiencing a violent crime. Certainly trauma can occur when witnessing or engaging in acts of war. Sickness, accidents, and medical trauma can also lead to psychological trauma or PTSD.
Trauma also includes the invisible baggage of being told, “you’re no good” your whole life, witnessing the abuse of others, or never experiencing a secure relationship that all of us require. Most commonly people think of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when they think of emotional or psychological trauma. However, keep in mind that just because someone doesn’t meet all the stipulations of having PTSD doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced a traumatic event.
Many people experience traumatic events that leave reverberating effects on their lives. Because trauma depends on the individuals’ experience and interpretation of the event, it may look different for many people. What is traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF PTSD OR COMPLEX TRAUMA APPLIES TO YOU?
There is no exact formula for what trauma is, as it really depends on each individual and their personal experience and interpretation of their experience. The way we tend to know a trauma happened – and has not been resolved – is by its lasting effects.
For those who’ve experienced a trauma and have yet to resolve the event they may feel, “that was a really terrible event and I fear it happening again.” At times, it’s as if it is happening again. “I can’t rest or stop thinking about it, even when I seem to get away from it, it keeps returning into my life at some point or another.”
For many people it’s difficult to see that there is any connection between the issues they are having now and the events they experienced in the past. Often traumatic experiences highly impact thoughts about themselves and their perspective of the world.
Often in these situations people tend to have a trend of distant or broken relationships, behaviors that help them avoid the thought of the past, or they may engage in behaviors that help them prevent such an event from ever happening again.
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER SYMPTOMS
People who’ve endured trauma may stay on high-alert, find themselves hyper-vigilant to anticipate similar events to occur again, and may find themselves preoccupied with thoughts of the traumatic event. Often people who’ve experienced traumatic events feel as if the trauma is still occurring, even if it were many, many years ago. They may have images of the experience flash through their minds as if on a movie screen, or they may have unwelcome nightmares that trouble their sleep.
Depending on the nature of the traumatic event, a person may also have low self-worth, blame themselves for nearly everything, feel like they are always at fault, and carry a constant sense of guilt. In relationships they may experience difficulty being close to others, even with spouses and their own parents or children. They may feel it is not safe to be close to others as they may think:
“What would they think of me if they really knew me?”
“Anyone who’s ever gotten close has left me, I better not risk it.”
COPING WITH TRAUMA SYMPTOMS
And coping with trauma is another thing. Many people find memories of their past experiences to be incredibly overwhelming and intolerable. What do you do with this intense reminder? Coping with anxiety is a common issue for trauma survivors.
Often trauma survivors resort to activities that numb the pain and help them avoid the negative emotions. Trauma is often at the root of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and eating disorders to include bulimia, anorexia, obesity, and other self-harming behaviors such as cutting or burning oneself.
These behaviors then lead to a need of how to cope with depression. There is a reason you are coping the way you are, on some level it’s worked for you in the past. But, maybe now you are tired of the routine. Maybe you are ready for something different?
PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA IS NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY
Trauma haunts people to endless degrees causing isolation, unhealthy coping patterns, and impacts of multiple areas of life. Trauma survivors are at a loss for controlling their fears and anxieties and often don’t know where to turn.
But, here you’ve found someone who understands. At Insight Counseling of Alexandria, I specialize as a Trauma Informed therapist. I make it my goal to educate myself in all ways to better understand and help bring healing to your situation.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN TRAUMA THERAPY
If you think you may be a trauma survivor, or at least have some commonalities with some of the above descriptions, trauma therapy will follow a particular pattern for you.
Healing trauma takes time. Because of the intense nature of trauma and the deep ways it impacts your life – thoughts, feelings, world view – we will take one step at a time.
Trauma Therapy will need to be paced to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the number of issues to address. At times therapy may feel really difficult, and at other times it may feel really great!
But rest assured that session-by-session you will likely gain more insight and understanding into your life. You will likely begin to feel greater hope for healing. You will likely feel improvement over time.
SO NOW WHAT?
When you are ready for therapy, feel free to call or contact me via the contact form on this site. I’m more than happy to answer your initial questions and set up an appointment. (703) 457-6828