Move Past Trauma and Create a More Joyous Future with Trauma Counseling and Therapy
When we think about trauma, often the first images that come to mind are big “T” traumas, such as automobile accidents, sexual assault, or being involved in a military conflict.
Having been through more than my “fair share” of major traumas, I know just how horrendous and debilitating these types of experiences can be.
After a while, if you find it difficult to think straight, manage your emotions, or keep up with your relationships and day-to-day responsibilities … if the people and things that once brought you joy seem to lose their meaning … you end up asking yourself how you’re supposed to keep on keeping on.
I’ve helped countless clients overcome just these types of issues by restoring hope and trust.
But an experience doesn’t need to involve physical danger to be considered traumatic.
Any experience that leaves you feeling vulnerable, helpless, alone, overwhelmed, or shatters your sense of safety can be traumatic.
In other words, being neglected as a child, bullied by siblings or peers, or being raised by emotionally detached or narcissistic parents can all be just as traumatic as surviving an assault, car crash, or armed conflict.
This is the reason why so many people who come to me for help with anxiety, stress, depression, relationship difficulties, or feelings of being lost or hopeless, often discover that these issues are caused (at least in part) by the emotional defenses they’ve developed to protect themselves from some form of past trauma.
So, whether you’re:
- Agitated, irritable, easily startled, panicky, moody, or have difficulties sleeping or concentrating
- Feeling emotionally detached, numb, or incapable of trusting others
- Wrestling with disturbing memories, painful emotions, or an ever-present sense that something bad is right around the corner
- Overly defensive or aggressive in your relationships with others
… all of these things may have their roots in some sort of prior traumatic experience.
Unfortunately, as a defense mechanism, we tend to minimize prior traumatic experiences. We may even consciously forget that such events ever occurred. Which begs the question …
How Can You Tell If You’re Struggling with Trauma?
If you’ve suffered a traumatic experience, you likely try to suppress your feelings by distancing or retreating from others or, on the flip side, by taking an overly aggressive stance in your relationships. Or you may attempt to numb the pain that’s hidden below the surface through substance use and abuse, shopping, eating, gambling, pornography, sex, or any other maladaptive behavior.
However, no matter what you do to try to keep a lid on your emotions, it becomes more and more difficult to do so.
The reason no amount of “coping” will truly help in the long run, is that coping mechanisms don’t address the underlying traumatic experiences that are causing you pain.
This is because traumatic experiences – especially those that occur in childhood – often lead us to form inaccurate, detrimental beliefs (mental frames) about others, ourselves, and the world around us. And no matter how hard you may try, no amount of coping is going to change those mental frames.
For example, just as being assaulted can leave one feeling unsafe no matter where they are, being bullied by peers can lead you to feel distrusting of others. Parental neglect can leave you feeling unworthy of love. And if a parent is emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive, the child is likely to assume that he or she is somehow responsible and that the abuse was deserved, which is actually easier for a child to accept than the fact that his or her parent is unpredictable or dangerous.
What all of this means is that traumatic experiences have a tendency to fundamentally impair our relationships with others, the world around us, as well as our relationships with ourselves. It can lead to you feeling unlikeable.
It’s for this reason that Trauma and Recovery author Judith Lewis Herman says, “Recovery can take place only within the context of (healing) relationships; it cannot occur in isolation.”
Why Trauma Counseling and Psychotherapy?
When you’ve been hurt or betrayed by people you trusted … when you no longer feel safe … the very idea of opening up and trusting someone with how you feel can seem daunting.
However, you will need to openly confront, work-through, and transform the feelings and memories that you’d rather avoid. And because trauma is “relational” in nature, this work is best done in the context of a healing relationship, which is exactly what professional counseling and psychotherapy are all about.
The safe, supportive, non-judgmental, interactive relationship you develop with your therapist is the key to acknowledging and transforming the beliefs you hold that are not only inaccurate, but also keeping you from experiencing all of the love and joy life has to offer.
All of this is why I’ve found attachment-focused, control mastery theory, and psychodynamic psychotherapy to be so effective in helping my clients work-through and move past trauma.
Yes, other forms of trauma treatment – somatic therapy, parts works, and EMDR – can help …
But I’ve found an integrative, relationship-focused approach to trauma treatment to be the most helpful method of using the therapeutic relationship to transform the maladaptive beliefs brought about by traumatic experiences.
Accordingly, in our work together, we’ll:
- Identify your goals.
- Examine any perceptions or beliefs that are holding you back from achieving those goals.
- Determine the experiences that have led to those beliefs.
- Use the therapeutic relationship to not only disconfirm those beliefs, but create new ones that help you live your life to its fullest potential.
My job as a psychotherapist is to help you align your mental frames (your beliefs and perceptions) with who you really are, so you can let go of the unnecessary tensions, anxiety, and depression you’re struggling with and live a more authentic and joyous life.
In essence, you’ll learn to revise and rewrite your mental frames, beliefs, and behaviors, by continuing to experience connection in the safe, supportive environment of our work together, while noticing and accepting all of the positives about yourself … that you are a unique, wondrous human being who is deserving of respect and love.
None of this is to say trauma counseling and therapy are easy …
Successfully facing, resolving, and transforming traumatic experiences takes time and effort.
However, whether a traumatic event happened yesterday, last week, last month, or years ago, trauma counseling and psychotherapy CAN help you heal, reclaim a sense of control, restore hope and trust, rebuild your relationship with others and your self, and move forward again with confidence and optimism!
When you’re ready to learn more about the trauma counseling and therapy services I offer, and how they can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you have. I look forward to helping you put trauma in its proper place … the past.