Even if therapy has failed to help your trauma before, you CAN be helped by a good trauma therapist. The techniques are affirming, gentle, and above all, effective. Check out my video series if you’ve been discouraged with talk therapy — this will explain why that hasn’t worked yet, and why there’s so much hope that it can work differently this time.
In this first video, I talk about how just talking about trauma doesn’t resolve it. It can, in fact, make things worse, or space you out, or give you lots of insight without really resolving anything:
Another reason people with trauma histories can get stuck in their therapy is that most therapists simply don’t have specialized training in trauma. Like I talk about here:
And yet another reason: You can click super well with a therapist, open up very quickly about your memories, and then find that your symptoms get worse if you two haven’t worked on how to put the brakes on those memories, and how to feel safe now:
Would you like to meet with me in person and talk about working together to help you to move past your trauma? Contact me here.
What is trauma?
Trauma is perhaps the most avoided, ignored, belittled, denied, misunderstood, and untreated cause of human suffering….Trauma is a basic rupture—loss of connection to ourselves, our families, and the world…..when [worked through] thoroughly, healing can lead not only to symptom reduction, but long-term transformation.
—Peter Levine Waking the Tiger
Anything that keeps a part of you “stuck in the past” can be thought of as a trauma of sorts. Transforming trauma means that those reactions get unstuck and all that energy is free to support you in living in the here and now.
(By the way, that “stuck in the past” feeling sometimes shows up in flashbacks to past events. If you’re struggling with flashbacks or abreactions, check out the flashback halting protocol.
You may have experienced childhood trauma, or trauma later in life (physical or emotional) — or both.
Below I explain more about both.
People dealing with this kind of trauma may have been abused in childhood – emotionally, physically, or sexually. But it’s not only childhood abuse that leads people to have traumatic reactions in the present. You may also be struggling with attachment trauma or attachment wounding (Where your caregivers weren’t dangerous, but they didn’t meet your needs either, which leaves you sometimes feeling alone in a not-very-friendly world. due to other circumstances:
- Your parents were unable to give you the care and attention that children need to thrive.
- You were the sensitive child in a tough family, so you didn’t get the validation you needed to move through your feelings.
- You experienced neglect or emotional abuse.
- Your parents went through a divorce.
- You were adopted.
- A parent was ill, mentally or physically, when you were a child, or was for some other reason unable to connect with you consistently.
Attachment trauma shows up in how you struggle to connect with others now, in your sense of shame, and in emotional flashbacks. You may avoid people, rage at people, , or feel a need for others to take care of you in the way you weren’t taken care of then.
Childhood trauma can result in feelings of sadness, fear, stress, or numbness.
Many folks with trauma also find some sense of comfort or control in some kind of outlet that becomes a problem in itself: overeating, spacing out, and finding ways to avoid their feelings.
If we can work together to help you feel safer and more in control, it will make it that much easier for you to work with your other problems.
These are the traumas that make a person fear for their bodily safety and even their life. You may be struggling with the aftereffect of physical trauma if:
- You were in a car accident.
- You endured a natural disaster.
- You were physically or sexually assaulted.
- You witnessed someone being hurt or killed.
- You had a near-death experience.
- You endured domestic violence
Labels don’t matter as much as you think
Different people going through the same traumatic situation will develop wildly different symptoms, yet they’ll respond to the same treatments. This isn’t reflected very well in the current diagnostic labels, which separate “disorders” by symptoms rather than by cause or treatment.
Recovering from trauma
The good news is, you can reclaim your sense of safety and sanity after trauma. Some of the techniques that really work to transform trauma are somewhat new, so you may not have heard of them — and that’s okay! The main thing is that you know that there’s effective help available, and that you don’t have to settle for “just talking about it” or stuffing it.
Knowing the things to look for in a therapist can help you to find someone who will work with you to overcome the effects of trauma.
Babette Rothschild, author of 8 Keys to Effective Trauma Treatment, recommends that you find a therapist who is familiar with at least three trauma techniques. (I know several.) That way, if one of them doesn’t fit well with you, you and your therapist have several options for moving forward.
I can work with you
Like an increasing number of counselors, I help clients from around the world over Skype video, which works remarkably well. I can also see you in person if you’re in the Corvallis, Oregon area. See my Online Counseling and Work With Me pages.