Does it feel difficult to let down your guard and let others in?
No two reactions to a traumatic event are the same. Maybe it shows up more subtly for you, like a pit in your stomach or a sense that something is wrong even when things seem to be going right. Maybe it’s more obvious, like you feel a sudden sense of panic, feeling like you’re always on alert, or just wanting to be alone because it feels safe.
After experiencing a traumatic event or series of traumatic events, our brains do an amazing job to protect us and keep us safe by setting off alarms in the body to respond and react to danger. However, when that danger is chronic and/or repeated, the alarm stays on and the body remains on high alert and in a hypervigilant state. Over time, a person’s view of the world may change and they may lose their sense of safety. So while this system has kept you safe and surviving, you may be noticing that the symptoms and effects are no longer working for you.
How is trauma showing up for you? At work: do you notice difficulty with memory, focus, or with concentration? With relationships: does it feel unsafe to be close with others or do you prefer to detach, withdraw, avoid, or isolate? In your overall well-being or functioning: Do you feel exhausted, panicked, sad, anxious or numb? Do you have difficulty sleeping, experience flashbacks, nightmares, or intense feelings of guilt or shame? Do you notice physical symptoms such as chronic pain, dizziness, headaches, or stomach aches?
You don’t have to feel alone.
It’s exhausting to carry this all on your own, wanting to move forward and heal but not sure how to get there.
You want to feel safe and grounded, able to reconnect to yourself and others, and feel more at peace with being you. You want more than just coping skills to work through the pain, you also want a space to heal and grow.
Trauma Counseling Can Help:
Together we will work on:
Feeling Safe and Grounded
Healing Past Experiences
Reconnecting to Yourself
Trauma Counseling can help you:
- Stop feeling like you have to do it all alone
- Develop coping skills to help you feel grounded and safe
- Set healthy boundaries in relationships
- Feel more confident
- Gain insight and learn to trust yourself
- Process past trauma
- Focus on your well-being without feeling guilty
- Reconnect with yourself and your relationships
It’s possible to feel safe and connected in yourself and your relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions about Trauma Counseling
A: It’s normal to feel nervous about doing this work. As humans, we tend to avoid the things that make us feel sad, pain, or uncomfortable. As your counselor, I am here to support and encourage you. I am a passenger on your journey and you are the driver. You are empowered to take the roads that feel right for you at the speed you want to go. Highways aren’t always the best ways. I love scenic drives and don’t mind detours!
A: Counseling is a very personalized process and looks different for everyone. For some, they may feel they have met their goals after a few months. For others, this may take longer. The amount of time depends on a person’s history and goals they are looking to work on in counseling. As your counselor, I value transparency and will collaborate with you to develop and update goals so you feel empowered with the decision to continue the work.
A: While we can’t undo the past, healing from trauma is possible. Trauma counseling can help you feel more safe, present, and free from the symptoms of trauma.
Specializing in Trauma and Complex Trauma
Most of us have experienced a distressing event in our lives. There may be memories you wish to forget but still tug at your heartstrings (like a bad breakup) or cause you to lay awake anxious thinking about. For many people, they can identify a single event or experience that caused significant distress such as a car accident or falling in the crowded cafeteria in middle school. Single incidents such as these are called acute traumas.
Acute traumas are significant events that overwhelm our ability to cope in the moment and cause that “fight, flight, or freeze response”. However, once that event has subsided, our body is usually able to return to a “normal state”. You might still feel some carry over effects such as nervousness or embarrassment, but overall you are able to carry on and regain functioning.
Chronic and complex trauma have a more lasting impact on the individual. While acute trauma is a single incident, chronic trauma occurs over a prolonged period of time. Prolonged childhood abuse, domestic violence, prolonged exposure to war/combat, community violence, and chronic illnesses are some examples of chronic trauma.
Complex trauma is similar to chronic trauma as it occurs over a prolonged period of time and also includes exposure to multiple traumatic events. It is often severe and interpersonal in nature. In addition to the examples mentioned, complex trauma may also include human trafficking, sexual abuse or incest, childhood neglect or abandonment, and torture.
Unlike with acute trauma, chronic and complex trauma disrupts the person’s ability to “return to normal”. This makes sense considering the prolonged exposure, the body isn’t able to return to a normal state and often stays in heightened state of arousal. This arousal is a protective function, it is our body’s way of keeping us safe and prepared to handle danger. While this is a built-in survival mechanism, over time, this heightened state becomes a new normal keeping the person hyper focused or alert, constantly scanning the environment for danger. It can also negatively affect a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and relationships.
Other effects of complex trauma may show up as difficulty with or lapses in memory, sleep disturbances, flashbacks, or nightmares, dissociation, derealization or depersonalization, difficulty regulating emotions, hypervigilance, low self-esteem, avoiding people, places, and things that remind the person of a traumatic event, difficulty with relationships, body aches, lowered immune system, and chronic health conditions. There is also a strong link between complex trauma and substance use as a way of coping.
While trauma and its symptoms can be difficult and overwhelming, the good news is that it can be treated. If you have experienced trauma or recognize some of the symptoms, you are not alone.
Heal trauma and complex trauma using EMDR
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based intervention commonly used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is also effective in treating other mental health concerns including but not limited to anxiety, depression, trauma and other stress-related disorders.
In EMDR, the clinician asks the client to focus on a memory while attending to bilateral stimulation. The dual attention of focusing on the memory and the bilateral stimulation reduces the level of distress associated with the memory, increases adaptive beliefs, and allows the brain and body to heal.