Trauma is a Resilient Response to a Painful Situation
Trauma is not a disorder, it is an ingrained human response to situations to big for our minds to hold. Trauma has no boundaries with regard to age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. What we call trauma is our minds natural way of trying to preserve us when it percieves our body or our mind to be under threat. Recovery from trauma often requires a therapeutic response. If you have been having difficulties recovering from a traumatic experience, If you are having trouble understanding your disturbing thoughts, nightmares, fear, anxiety and other uncomfortable symptoms, if you have been redirecting your feelings and thoughts outwards towards family, friends and coworkers then trauma counseling might be the answer.
Dangerous or Chronically Difficult Childhood
War Related Trauma
Pregnancy Related Trauma
What is Trauma?
You might be surprised by what your subconscious considers to be a traumatic experience. Being yelled at, witnessing an accident or even reading a disturbing newspaper article can trigger trauma. So can life-changing experiences, such as a loved one’s death, childhood neglect, sexual abuse, or an experience of war. None of us get through life without experiencing at least a little bit of trauma.
Trauma is what happens when we become fearful for our own safety, when we feel under attack. We can experience a fear for our physical safety when someone attacks us or tries to do physical harm to us. We can also experience emotional fear when attacked in a non-physical way that seems to threaten something in us at our core.
Trauma is difficult to resolve on your own. This is because trauma is, in many ways, is a safety response. Like an alarm going of to warn us of a fire. Our minds develop a traumatic response as a way of keeping us safe from danger. As humans we have to have a way of dealing with unsafe situations that allows us to physically survive. Our trauma response does this for us but it a way that can cause extreme emotional pain. A traumatized mind will tell us again and again that we are not safe. It will cause us to distrust others and keep us on the alert at all times. This takes a horrible toll on us.
In times of danger our mind need a way to keep us safe. But when we are no longer in danger we also need a way to let our minds know that we are safe without the constant fear and pain. We need to be able to return to a better life. Trauma therapy allows you to learn how to return to a mental place of safety. Learn to understand who you are and how you can finally come back to a place of peace.
Types of Trauma
Trauma comes in many shapes and sizes. There are many different types of experiences that can lead to feeling traumatized or to existing in “survival mode.” Your body and mind warn you to be on guard. That you are not safe even though you know, on some level, that the danger has passed. There are different kinds of trauma, and yet, all result in some diminished world. A move away from a more meaningful life.
Single Incident Trauma
Single incident trauma’s are the result of a one time experience such as a car accident, physical attack, rape, natural disaster, or medical procedure that leaves a person struggling to regain their sense of self and trust, and unable to engage in activities that used to give them pleasure. This is what most people think of when they think of trauma. After a single incident trauma you can find yourself avoiding the places or people you associate with the trauma. With single incident trauma, the sooner you seek therapy the better. However, symptom reduction and successful processing through of the trauma can occur even years after the event.
Complex Trauma is when you experience many things over a period of time that cause you to view the world as unsafe. This can also be known as attachment or relational trauma and is common in people who had dangerous or chronically difficult childhoods. Yet, many adult experiences can also leave us with complex trauma. This type of trauma usually develops when we are living in a situation that causes us to feel unsafe, for whatever reason.
When we are young it may be because we are in the care of someone that, for whatever reason, feels unsafe, either physically or emotionally. The mind has a traumatic response to being in the care of a person who may not be trustworthy or reliable.
In addition to the common symptoms of trauma, with complex trauma you may struggle with more diffuse or harder to recognize symptoms like feeling of “not fitting in” or “belonging”, or maybe even feeling “broken” or “contaminated.” You may have problems trusting others, difficulty with intimacy, problems maintaining relationships, moodiness, undefined anger and grief, negative beliefs about yourself, and feeling of detachment from yourself and others.
Childhood Abuse Recovery
Chronic or accumulative experiences of neglect, abandonment, loss, betrayal, rejection, physical or sexual abuses are often at the foundation of problems that can emerge years later, in adulthood. You do not have to feel engulfed or defined by past experiences.
Other Types of Complex Trauma
Trauma can come from an innumerable number of events. The combination of extreme fear combined with perceived or actual immobility (feeling stuck or trapped) leads to developing symptoms of trauma. This kind of trauma may be the result of:
War/Combat (soldier or civilian)
Emergency Response Work
Political repression, discrimination, systemic racism
Concealing part of one’s identity for fear of retribution
Assault, Rape, and/or Abduction
Experiencing medical procedures/anesthesia/surgeries
Psychological emergencies that are not properly treated by professionals
Organizational system failures (medical, psychological, legal, governmental)
Intergenerational or historical trauma is trauma that is transferred from the from one generation to anther. Trauma does not necessarily disappear when the person who was traumatized is gone. Instead it is something that can be transferred across people and across families. If your ancestors were trauma survivors you may be experiencing intergenerational trauma. We now know that trauma can be transmitted through a family by a persons actions, beliefs, and even through a persons genes. Our research shows that our intergenerational trauma does not just come from the way we are raised or how our parents responded to issues, it actually effects our DNA, coming to us even if it was never noticeably present in our home.
Intergenerational trauma can be experienced as group traumas including genocide, enslavement or ethnic cleansing. It can also be experienced as personal trauma transmitted through a single person to the next generation in a family. It can lead to substance abuse, depression, anxiey, anger, violence, and suicide within the family. If you are feeling the effects of intergenerational trauma find a therapist who can understand the complexity of trauma and can support you in your decision to leave the trauma in the past. Let the trauma end with you.
Types of Trauma Symptoms
Just as trauma can come in many forms so can the symptoms. Most of our cultural representations of trauma only show the most extreme form. This has caused many people not to realize they are suffering from trauma because their symptoms are less dramatic or aggressive then those seen on TV. Trauma can be intense responses of anger and fear, experiences of flashbacks and nightmares, and extreme distancing of yourself from everything you have ever loved. But trauma can also be more subtle this this.
Trauma symptoms can also include a lack of feeling connected to others. Feeling overwhelmed, angry, unsafe, withdrawn, or anxious. It may affect your sense of purpose and/or identity. It can feel like confusion, guilt, shame, irritability, hopelessness, numbness, or disconnection. Just as trauma can come in many forms so can the symptoms.
With support for a trauma expert you can navigate through these types of traumatic experiences. You can learn to understand your past through a new light and clearly see why you responded the way you did. But more importantly you can leave some of these symptoms behind and get back to living the life you want to live.
Do I need Trauma Counseling?
If you have been having difficulties recovering from a traumatic experience, then trauma counseling can help. If you are having trouble understanding your disturbing thoughts, nightmares, fear, anxiety and other uncomfortable symptoms, then trauma counseling can help you find some answers.
You may be redirecting your feelings and thoughts outwards towards family, friends and coworkers. Perhaps you are experiencing denial, anger, sadness and emotional outbursts. Wherever you are in your recovery process, I am here to help.
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