Does life feel like a struggle right now?

Maybe some of the following sound familiar:

  • You’re exhausted and the world around you feels threatening, like something bad could happen at any time
  • Sometimes you feel numb and detached from yourself and others, while other times you feel overwhelmed by dread and despair
  • You feel isolated in your suffering, and find it difficult to trust others
  • Nothing you’ve tried has helped you feel any better, and you’re concerned this is how you’ll always feel

If so, it is quite likely that you are grappling with the impact of traumatic events on your life. You’re not alone. Over half the US population will deal with some form of trauma in their lifetime. Thankfully, therapy for trauma can help you feel back in control of your own life.

Interested in seeing if we’re a good fit?

What is Trauma

Trauma is anything that overwhelms our coping resources, and in doing so alters how our body and mind attempt to handle the world. Trauma is a natural response to painful events, and no one is to blame for experiencing a traumatic event or suffering from symptoms of trauma.

Some of the most common sources of trauma are:

  • Psychological or physical abuse–past or present–from significant figures in one’s life (e.g. caregivers, romantic partners, supervisors)
  • Sexual assault
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Being the target of prejudice
  • Repetitive experiences of neglect by those you rely on
  • Sudden, unanticipated endings, such as being broken up with or being let go from a job, as well as hostile endings
  • Learning about and/or coping with adverse medical experiences
  • Exposure to overwhelming experiences of violence, as in combat
  • Experiencing or witnessing sudden, life changing events such as natural disasters, car crashes, or severe accidents

Symptoms of Trauma

Traumatic experiences can have all sorts of adverse impacts and fundamentally alter how we experience the world.

Symptoms of trauma can take many forms, including:

  • Intrusive, distressing memories of traumatic experiences, and feeling triggered by anything else that reminds us of those experiences
  • Flashbacks or nightmares about traumatic events
  • Chronic anxiety and hypervigilance to threats, often accompanied by avoidance of people, places or other experiences that might remind a person of traumatic events
  • Exhaustion, irritability and moments of intense anger
  • Depression, which may include negative feelings like guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, increases or decreases in appetite, difficulty sleeping, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, social withdrawal and thoughts of suicide
  • Dissociative experiences, such as feeling numb, feeling detached from one’s own thoughts and feelings or surroundings or feeling like an outside observer of one’s own life
  • Feelings of alienation and distrust
  • Physical symptoms, such as unexplained aches and pains, chronic hypertension and racing heartbeat
  • Increased substance use in an effort to cope with other symptoms

Why do these symptoms of trauma occur?

Trauma can be understood in relation to our body’s instinctual “fight, flight or freeze” response, which is activated in threatening situations. This system is designed to protect us from immediate danger. When we perceive a threat, our bodies automatically go into a state of high arousal to prepare for one of three responses: fight (defend ourselves), flight (escape the situation), or freeze (become immobile or subdued when fighting or fleeing is not possible or might make the situation worse).

During this response, our bodies undergo several changes–our adrenaline rises and our heart rate increases, our muscles tense for action, and we become hypervigilant – all to maximize our chances of survival.

However, when a person experiences any of the types of traumatizing events described above, the fight, flight or freeze response can become dysregulated and our bodies may struggle to return to a baseline feeling of safety. Instead, our body’s way of instinctively protecting itself gets stuck in overdrive, generating symptoms.

A person stuck in ‘fight-or-flight’ may remain in a state of heightened anxiety and vigilance even when there’s no immediate danger and may react intensely to what’s happening around them. A person stuck in ‘freeze’ may feel numb, isolated, depressed, and despairing.

None of this is a person’s choice or fault, it is all happening outside of conscious control.

How trauma therapy can help

Therapy can help us to understand trauma, process it, and restore a sense of safety to our mind and body.

Therapy can help people:

  • Better understand how the trauma occurred or continues to occur, and the feelings, symptoms and changes in worldview that have resulted from it
  • Learn concrete skills to manage their feelings when exposed to traumatic memories and triggers
  • Develop a plan for healing and a greater sense of agency over their lives
  • Process intense feelings associated with the trauma in a supportive setting that helps resolve those feelings
  • Experience validation around how they have been impacted by their trauma
  • Reestablish a safe connection to the world around them

Finding balance and optimism

Therapy for trauma is a process that takes resolve and support, but which can restore a person’s basic sense of balance and optimism. I draw on several trauma-informed therapies to help people, and seek above all else to establish a climate of safety, respect and care.

If you would like to talk more about how I can help you heal your trauma I hope you reach out.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking with which they were created.” - Albert Einstein

Trauma’s emotional impacts are complex and can contribute to a variety of symptoms. Hyper vigilance and difficulties with trust can lead to both heightened anxiety and difficulties managing anger. Trauma can lead to feelings of hopelessness and depression. People who have incurred trauma may sometimes blame themselves for the experience, contributing to issues with self-esteemEMDR can be an effective form of treatment for people struggling with trauma.