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Green Hills with Blue Sky

Trauma Therapy

Trauma Therapy

 

One of my top areas of specialization is working with those who have experienced trauma.  Trauma is a term that applies to a wide range of experiences, conditions, and emotions. Depression, anxiety, and addictions are often rooted in past traumas, which may be long forgotten, or which may seem insignificant now. Other times trauma stands on its own, and is very clearly the central problem a person is dealing with. Trauma could apply to a relationship ending under painful circumstances, losing a job, losing a loved one, as well as being the victim of a crime, or experiencing a sexual assault.  It may include being involved in domestic violence, a car accident, or from having spent time in war zones, as soldiers or as medical personnel.

When it comes to the long lasting impact of debilitating trauma, we really are our own worst enemy.  In today’s busy society it is common practice to avoid or block out the mental links connecting us to our own rich and valuable history especially when
 that history includes trauma.   
Habitually avoiding the pain of trauma reinforces feelings of fear, insecurity and helplessness.  Ironically, avoiding the reminders of painful experiences, strengthens our connection to it.  The action of avoidance serves as a bridge to the thing we are trying to avoid. 

 

WHAT IS TRAUMA?  There are traumatic events and traumatized people. Traumatic events range from dramatically obvious to subtle and ordinary.  Events that initiate traumatic symptoms vary from person to person.  For example, a traumatic event could be as common as a relationship ending under sudden or painful circumstances, losing a job or losing a loved one. More obvious examples include being the victim of a crime, a sexual assault, being involved in domestic violence, a car accident, or from having spent time in war zones, as soldiers or as medical personnel. 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRAUMATIC EVENTS AND TRAUMATIC SYMPTOMS

Traumatic Events

Traumatic  Symptoms

Natural Disasters – earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, Flood, Fire

Exaggerated startle response

Avoidance of reminders of traumatic
experience

Personal Disasters – divorce, death, other losses

Depression
Anxiety

War

Flashbacks

Accidents

Nightmares

Prolonged hunger

Sleep disturbance

Any perceived life threatening event directly experienced or witnessed

Being abused by authority figures

Changes in appetite
Debilitating emotions, thoughts and feelings resulting from the traumatic event

 

THE MECHANICS OF HEALING: Allowing yourself to be present to uncomfortable sensations in a safe environment helps your mind process your trauma symptoms.  As your mental grip relaxes, the negative attachments will also relax and naturally dissipate.  When the emotional connections to the traumatic events dissipate, the memories associated move from the front of your mind to the back of your mind where they belong.  This creates new space for current reality to exist because your mind is no longer holding on to the past.

Overwhelming experiences and emotions cannot be encoded in the brain's neural pathways. They are lodged into the brain and in the nervous system in a kind of scattershot way that leaves people feeling unsettled, nervous, and prone to panic attacks or deep lows of emotion.

 I frequently use the therapeutic treatment method known as somatic experiencing. I have extensive training in this method and have found it to be extremely helpful in moving people beyond the negative emotions they are experiencing. Somatic is a word that refers to the body, because emotions are experienced in the body as physical effects. Sometimes we think of emotions as something only in our minds, but feelings are truly an experience of our central nervous system. When you pay attention to your emotions you will see that there's always a physical expression to those emotions. Anger might include a rapid heartbeat, a feeling of heat in the face, and muscle tension all over the body. Anxiety may include a feeling of nervousness all over the body, or a pit in the stomach. Sadness may be experienced as the urge to cry, or an empty feeling in the chest, or a heavy feeling in the chest, or possibly feeling heavy all over. These physical manifestations of emotion are actually quite important in being able to process them and let them go. Emotions need to rise to the surface so that they can be put out, once and for all. The tendency is to avoid negative emotions, but that only keeps them within the body. 

Working with me, you will find a safe and healing environment where you can release your emotions and experience compassion and good guidance in working through them.  I would be happy to talk with you about whatever it is that's troubling you, or help you discover what is at the core of your anxiety, depression, or addiction. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

"Feeling angry isn't right and it isn't wrong.  It's just a feeling.  No big deal."

Did you know that your nervous system can't tell the difference between a video game, a film and real life?  Your autonomic nervous system is 100% reactionary!  It's the first level of perception.  Emotional reactions happen instantaneously.  EXAMPLE: Let's say you are watching a scene in a movie where the villain is about to murder the sweet, innocent victim.  If you're really into it, your heart may begin racing, while in your head you're screaming for someone to come and save the day!  Somewhere in the back of your mind you know that the actors are safe and that they are just acting out a "make believe" scene in a movie.  But your nervous system however, doesn't register a difference.  The feelings that result from watching a movie, driving in traffic, or fighting with your partner are all the same.  There is no judge in your head that instantly separates them into their appropriate boxes.  When you are in the moment, you just feel what you feel. 

There is so much more I'd like to share with you about truama and the recovery from trauma.  Please feel free to call or email me with any questions you might have.  Please know that there is hope, and you don't have to suffer the effects of trauma forever.  You can be free of the negative thoughts and feelings you are currently expereincing.

-Carla



 


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