It is a rare person who has never experienced some kind of trauma in his or her life. Most of us have had something traumatic happen at some point - a car accident, an invasive dental or medical procedure, some catastrophic event, such as a house fire, a flood, or any kind of natural disaster, being exposed to war, experiencing or witnessing an act of violence or abuse. Research indicates that about 70% of all adults in America will go thorugh at least one or more major traumas in their lifetime. Sometimes a trauma event is so impactful that about 20% of those individuals will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD can result in such symptoms as flashbacks, nightmares, a variety of anxiety symptoms that manifest physically and emotionally, and an avoidance of any person, place or activity that reminds them of the trauma. Untreated PTSD can result in depression, anxiety, anger, worry, sleeplessness, feelings of guilt. In a variety of ways, it can hold you back from living your life the way you desire to live it.
Sometimes the impact of trauma is almost immediate, for example, someone who has difficulty driving a car after being in an accident. Occasionally the impact of trauma is delayed. It is possible for someone to not experience the effects of the trauma for as much as six months or more. Usually something will bring it to your conscious awareness, for example, the anniversary date of the trauma, being exposed to something that feels similar to the past trauma, or one of your children reaching the same age as you were when you experienced a childhood trauma.
In order for someone to receive a diagnosis of PTSD, they must have experienced or witnessed a life-threatening or potentionally injurious event. However, it doesn't have to have been life-threatening to have left a negative imprint on your heart and mind. Experiences such as, having been bullied in Junior High, not having received the approval of your Dad, going through cancer treatment, a difficult break up in a significant relationship, or any number of other painful events can feel traumatising. Any such event can prompt you to believe things about yourself such as, "It's my fault. I'm not good enough. I'm not worth it." Or it could cause you to believe about other people such things as, "I can't depend on anyone," or "People are going to undermine me." Those beliefs can FEEL true even when they are NOT really true. And once those limiting beliefs get "tattooed" on your heart and mind, they can impact your life negatively in many ways.
So, what can be done to neutralize the negative effects of trauma?
Following a trauma event, it can take a while for your life to feel like it is back to normal again. Sometimes that happens over the course of time, along with talking it out with someone you trust. Occasionally, though, you can get stuck and not be able to move beyond the trauma. When that happens, your job, your relationships with family and friends, and your sense of well-being can be negatively affected. You may feel desperate to regain a sense of control and confidence in your life. That is when it can be very helpful to see a counselor.
As a counselor, over the past 25 years I've helped a lot of people become free of the affects of trauma. In an atmosphere of compassion and non-judgement, I help people, first, make use of some concrete, practical strategies, such as Heart Math, Self Hypnosis, and others that are focused on calming down the feelings of anxiety and regaining a sense of control. Second, once they develop some good coping strategies, we then process the trauma using such tools as, EMDR, HMR, HCH, or EFT (see the "Tools" page for explanations).
How long does it take?
Using some of the tools listed above, the process is quicker than traditional "talk" therapy. I've worked with people who were in a bad car accident who processed that to completion in just a couple of sessions. Generally, for people who had a relatively trauma free childhood, or who had someone to help them process past trauma, the process can go pretty quickly. For someone who had a lot of trauma at various points in their life, the process can take longer. I tend to be more problem & solution focused in my work, but I also don't want to just "put a band-aid" on something, either. I seek to be respectful of what time committment you are able to make.
I wholeheartedly believe that out of the most difficult times of our lives, we can grow and develop aspects of ourselves that perhaps would never have been developed any other way. You truly can get beyond the negative impact of a trauma, and you can not only feel much better, but it is possible for something meaningful and good to eventually come out of it.
I look forward to helping you gain a sense of freedom again. To schedule a session, email me at [email protected] or call me at 847-781-1407.