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Trauma and PTSD Therapy

Do you feel overwhelmed by the impact of trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?  Are you wondering why it has affected you so much? As a trauma therapist, I can help you understand what has happened to you and help you heal.

How We Develop Trauma

Emotional trauma arises from events that cause physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological harm. People can become traumatized from experiencing traumatic events or even watching or hearing about traumatic events.

During a traumatic event, animals (including  humans) engage the nervous system’s survival mode.  This survival mode is often called the flight, fight, freeze, or faint reaction.  Then, the body (including the autonomic nervous system) becomes energized to carry out one or more of these four reactions.  When an animal (including a human) fights back or runs away, this energy is dispelled.

For animals that respond to stressful events by freezing or fainting, the body may release this energy by shaking as demonstrated in this video.  Non-human animals are very good at discharging energy in this way.  As a result, they don’t become traumatized.  However, human brains will often block this natural and instinctual shaking response. Consequently, this causes that energy to become trapped in the body. As a result, this trapped energy can often cause trauma symptoms long after traumatic events.

What are Traumatic Events

There are many scenarios where we may not feel that we have the power or ability to fight or flee during a traumatic event.   Consequentially, that leaves us with only with a more passive response (fainting or freezing).  As a result, traumatic symptoms may develop. These events may include:

    • Accident
    • Addicted parents
    • Bullying
    • Child abuse
    • Child neglect
    • Death of others
    • Divorce
    • Domestic violence
    • Emotional abuse
  • Homelessness
  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Loss of important relationship
  • Mentally ill parents
  • Molest
  • Natural disasters
  • Pain
  • Parental abandonment
  • Physical abuse
  • Racism
  • Rape
  • Relocation
  • Spiritual abuse
  • Terrorism
  • War
  • Witnessing a traumatic event

Psychological trauma can be associated with a single event.  However, complex trauma is also common.  Dr. Christine Courtois, describes complex trauma as “a type of trauma that occurs repeatedly and cumulatively, usually over a period of time and within specific relationships and contexts.”

What are Trauma Symptoms

Trauma can become trapped in our bodies and psyche.  Until treated, trauma can impact our lives long after the traumatic event. One does not need to experience symptoms of PTSD to suffer from trauma. Symptoms of trauma may include:

Physical Symptoms

      • Easily startled
      • Agitated
      • Fatigue
      • Exhaustion
      • Racing heart
      • Insomnia
      • Muscle tension
      • Aches and pains
      • Sexual dysfunction
      • Changes in sleep
      • Changes in eating
      • Headaches

Emotional Symptoms:

      • Fear
      • Dissociation
      • Feeling out of control
      • Low self-esteem
      • Emotional numbing
      • Depression
      • Guilt
      • Shame
      • Anger
      • Anxiety
      • Panic attacks
      • Irritability
      • Mood swings
      • Hopelessness
      • Insecurity

Cognitive Symptoms:

      • Intrusive thoughts
      • Flashbacks
      • Nightmares
      • Loss of memory
      • Disorientation
      • Confusion
      • Spaciness
      • Difficulty concentrating
      • Repressed memories
      • Obsession
      • Disbelief
      • Denial
      • Difficulty making decisions

Behavioral Symptoms:

      • Social isolation
      • Lack of interest
      • Aggression
      • Compulsivity
      • Self-harm
      • Drug abuse
      • Alcohol abuse
      • Edginess
      • Inappropriate sexual behaivor

Health Problems Associated with Childhood Trauma

Additionally, people that suffered trauma as children are more likely to suffer health problems later.  Childhood traumatic events and complex trauma are also called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  ACEs include neglect, abuse, and household challenges.  You can learn your ACEs score here.  Health problems as a result of ACEs may include:

      • Autoimmune disease
      • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
      • Depression
      • Fetal death
      • Drug use or abuse
      • Alcoholism or alcohol abuse
      • Ischemic heart disease
      • Liver disease
      • Cancer
      • Obesity
  • Many sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Poor work or school performance
  • Financial stress
  • Unintended or teenage pregnancies
  • Early sexual activity
  • Sexual or domestic violence

This Trauma Therapist Can Help

To alleviate the symptoms of trauma caused by ACEs and traumatic events, a variety of therapies can be employed. However, trauma therapies that utilizes a somatic approach, such as Brainspotting trauma therapy and EMDR trauma therapy, are most effective.  Somatic therapy engages the mind, the body, and the nervous system to dispel the energy that has become trapped by trauma.  Suzanne is a trauma therapist that utilizes Brainspotting truama therapy, EMDR trauma therapy, and other somatic techniques to help release the trauma and calm the body’s nervous system.

When working with trauma in therapy, the aim is to experience the sensations associated with trauma without overwhelming the client and their nervous system. Above all, a good trauma therapist ensures that the client is well equipped with tools and resources to handle the effects trauma counseling before working directly on trauma.  Furthermore, a good trauma counselor paces the trauma therapy so that the client ideally remains under their threshold of tolerance. Thus, these practices avoid re-traumatization of the client.

Resources for Trauma and PTSD

For more information on trauma and PTSD counseling, please see the many books that are included on my Counseling Resources page.  Also included on this page is information on coping skills, self-compassion, links to mindfulness recordings, and bilateral music.  Coping Skills, self-compassion, mindfulness and bilateral music can help regulate the body’s nervous system and help relieve the symptoms of trauma.  My blog posts related to trauma are also helpful.

Benefits of Trauma Therapy

Denver trauma counseling

Trauma counseling can help return the client’s nervous system to a calmer state.  As a result, the physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral trauma symptoms described above can be alleviated.  Also, client’s can begin integrate the memory of the trauma into their lives.  Another benefits is that clients will find that the power of the trauma over their lives will begin to fade.  After treatment, people may feel more grounded, peaceful, and a sense of calm.  Finally, clients will feel less reactive and will be better able to recover after difficult life events.

It’s time to heal…

Please contact me at (720) 443-1480 or email me to schedule an appointment.