Not everyone understands what trauma is or what it entails. Just as a terrible accident or injury may cause physical trauma to the body, the experience of a terrible event may cause psychological trauma in the mind. A psychological trauma occurs when you experience severe mental and emotional stress in response to a terrible event. Examples of terrible events may be an accident, rape, violence (ie: shootings, terrorist attacks or physical abuse), the unexpected death of a loved one, infidelity or betrayal in a close relationship, natural disasters, war experiences, or a diagnosis of a serious and life-threatening illness.
It is important to understand that it is an individual’s perception and experience of an event that deems it traumatic, and there are many factors that may make situations more or less “traumatic” for people. Examples of factors that affect the experience include whether you felt you had any sense of control during the event, social support (who came to help or comfort you afterwards), previous life experiences (whether other terrible events have happened to you in the past) and coping skills.
Trauma always involves loss. At a minimum, you lose your sense of safety, security or trust in the world or people around. The experience of loss forever changes a person’s world. A traumatic event also changes how your brain and body react to threatening situations in the future. Essentially, the brain is stuck on “high alert” all the time, even while you are trying to sleep.
After a trauma, people usually experience shock and denial – the mind’s way of protecting itself from a harsh reality. Other common symptoms include anxiety, panic attacks, changes in mood (ie: anger, sadness, depression), flashbacks to the traumatic event, insomnia (and nightmares) and even physical symptoms such as headaches and nausea.
I know the experience of trauma. I know what it’s like to wake up and have your world be completely different – changed from a terrible event. I understand it at both a personal and professional level, and I can help you through it.
Counseling is very effective in treating trauma so long as a counselor has specialized training and experience in this area. One therapy in particular, Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy has proven to be one of the most effective therapies for trauma and is supported by agencies such as the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Department of Defense, World Health Organization and the American Psychological Association. I have specialized training in this therapy and would be happy to talk more about it with you.
If trauma has impacted your life and you are struggling to cope or if you are still experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress many years after, please contact me today. We will work together to process your experience and restore your sense of wellbeing.