It is nearly impossible to be human without experiencing trauma at some point in our lives. Trauma happens any time stress becomes bigger than our ability to cope. It can happen with all kinds of events, including divorce, abuse or neglect, car accidents, illness and grief. We may also experience trauma without remembering a specific event that caused it.
Trauma can be an underlying cause of many difficult experiences, including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, social anxiety and panic attacks.
What is Trauma?
Our understanding of trauma has improved significantly in the past 20-30 years. We now know that trauma is not just a psychological problem, but a physical problem—it happens in our bodies and nervous systems. As a result, we have become more efficient at treating trauma.
One of the main functions of our nervous system is to alert us to danger to protect us. When something happens that could threaten our safety, we experience feelings like fear, anger or numbness. These states help us respond to the threat in the moment and in most cases, we go back to feeling safe after the danger is over. However, when the experience is too intense or threatening to process, we experience trauma.
Symptoms of Trauma
Trauma shows up in many ways and causes symptoms that can be confusing. It can cause panic attacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts and flashbacks. It can make us feel frozen or spacey in some situations. It can also cause insomnia, depression and various forms of anxiety. To deal with these symptoms, people may turn to problematic coping strategies such as substance use or isolation.
People with unprocessed trauma often feel that they are in danger even when they know logically that they are not. This is because their nervous system does not fully recognize that the threat is gone.
Fortunately, trauma can be healed. Trauma treatment allows our nervous system to release old experiences and brings us back into the present. I have seen many people move from fear and helplessness to a new sense of freedom and safety.
I believe in a multi-dimensional approach to healing trauma. We typically begin by learning new coping strategies to help when you feel overwhelmed. We address the parts of you that are protecting you from feeling too much pain. Then we work with the nervous system to release stuck patterns. In many cases, this process includes EMDR Therapy to help you integrate disturbing memories and release the trauma.
Addressing trauma is scary and vulnerable, and I want to help you through the healing process in as gentle and supportive a way as possible. Feeling safe is the most important thing when processing trauma.
I am always amazed at the strength, resilience, and insights of people working through trauma. This work forces us to discover who we are and what we are capable of. Some people have even attributed existential or spiritual breakthroughs to their process of healing trauma.
When we heal from trauma we not only experience relief from symptoms—we also experience a more whole version of ourselves, and less confusion about our lives. I have seen how painful trauma can be. I have also seen how empowered we can feel when we begin to heal it.
If you are suffering with trauma, please take the first step and reach out. I look forward to hearing from you and helping in any way that I can.