Finding A Starting Point For Trauma Therapy

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When you're struggling with unresolved trauma, the last thing you may want to do is talk about what happened to you. Many people who've experienced a trauma-who've been sexually or physically abused or assaulted-try to avoid even thinking about what happened, much less talking about it. So it's understandable that asking for help or signing up for trauma therapy is not an easy thing to do.

It's hard to stop replaying the events in your mind, over and over again. Nightmares make it seem impossible to get a good night's sleep. Your body reacts to reminders of the trauma, causing you to feel out of control. Even reading or watching a movie feels risky, because it just doesn't take much to bring back a disturbing memory, to feel like the trauma is happening all over again.

Where To Start

Symptoms of PTSD and trauma can throw you off balance. The smallest thing can set off a chain reaction in your mind and body, overwhelm your ability to function in the most basic ways, and cause strain in relationships. If you have trouble at work, or find it difficult to take care of yourself and your family, the first step is to build on ways to improve your daily life. Before delving into painful or frightening memories it's important to have developed ways to calm and care for yourself when you're in distress. Having the tools and resources to manage your emotions and distressing thoughts connected to trauma will allow you to think more clearly and make decisions more easily--- so that you can heal what's hurting.

Finding What Works For You

In order to heal from trauma, you will need to discover what is best for you. Learning to listen to your own emotional and physical signals, and setting your own pace in your trauma recovery are important skills to learn. Babette Rothschild writes “Trauma recovery involves much more than remembering and processing traumatizing incidents. For some of you, focusing on the past will not be necessary, or desirable. Trauma must, first and foremost, improve your quality of life. Anything that furthers that goal is good for you; anything which compromises that goal is not” (8 Keys To Safe Trauma Recovery, 2010). Very often in therapy, what can help to move you in the right direction in healing trauma and PTSD is to understand how you've been impacted by your experiences, not only what happened to you. It's up to you to decide when to talk about your trauma and in how much detail.

Breaking Your Silence

Trauma and PTSD interfere with your life and change how you feel about yourself and others; and the effects of trauma can show up years after the event is over. Bessel Van Der Kolk writes “As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself. Hiding your core feelings takes an enormous amount of energy, it saps your motivation to pursue worthwhile goals, and it leaves you feeling bored and shut down....Only after you identify the source of these responses can you start using your feelings as signals of problems that require your urgent attention” (The Body Keeps The Score, 2014).


If you've been physically or sexually abused or assaulted, reaching out for help is difficult. But remaining silent or trying to keep up the appearance that everything is okay usually just prolongs the problem. The sooner you get help, the more quickly you'll find relief and get back to feeling more like yourself. If you'd like to learn more about how trauma therapy and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) can help, please contact me for a free phone consultation at (626) 808-5463 or hollyaevansmft@gmail.com

Getting Help for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

You know that you've lived through a horrible experience. You survived and you know that it's over. But it may be hard to understand why you continue to have physical or emotional reactions to reminders of what happened, or why it's so difficult to keep disturbing memories from intruding into your thoughts.  Living with PTSD makes you feel like the traumatic event continues on.

Nightmares, flashbacks, feeling on edge, being easily startled, and avoiding people, places or activities that remind you of the trauma- these are all common features of PTSD that can interfere with living your daily life, your work and your relationships.

What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)?

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a reaction to a traumatic event(or events), and develops in some people who have been through a life threatening, frightening, or shocking experience. PTSD can develop in the months following the event, or even many years later.

Many types of events can lead to PTSD including:

  • Childhood abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse

  • Rape or sexual assault

  • Physical assault

  • Being bullied

  • Being subjected to racism/bigotry

  • Being diagnosed with a with a life-threatening illness

  • Accidents (car, plane, etc.)

  • Living through natural disaster (fires, earthquakes, floods)

  • Combat

  • Witnessing or learning of a traumatic event involving a loved one or even a stranger

 

Symptoms of PTSD

People with PTSD will experience 3 main types of symptoms:

Reliving the trauma

Memories that are intrusive or feel out of control, nightmares, and flashbacks can make it feel like the traumatic event is happening again. These memories are easily brought back by reminders of the event(including sights, sounds, people, specific situations).

Avoidance

People with PTSD will try to avoid thinking about the horrible experience they've been through. This includes avoiding people, places, books, movies-anything that they might associate with the trauma. It's common to feel numb or disconnected from other people, and to even feel that no one understands what you're going through.

Physical Distress

PTSD shows up in the body. Troubled sleep, feeling on guard or tense, difficulty concentrating, and feeling irritable or easily angered, gastrointestinal distress are all typical physical responses to trauma.

When To Get Help for PTSD

For people who've experienced trauma and develop PTSD, anxiety becomes overwhelming, making it difficult to stop thinking about the event(s). PTSD can also lead to other problems such as depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and phobias. The symptoms of PTSD can be mild or severe, and commonly interfere with how you go about daily life, your ability to go to work/fulfill work obligations, and impacts your relationships.

Getting help for trauma is difficult, but remaining silent or trying keep up the appearance that everything is okay usually just prolongs the problem. The sooner you get help, the more quickly you'll find relief and get back to feeling more like yourself. If you'd like to learn more about how I can help, please contact me for a free phone consultation at (626) 808-5463 or hollyaevansmft@gmail.com