Trauma

What is Trauma?

An upsetting event that causes long-term and harmful effects upon a person’s physical and mental well-being is known as trauma. Trauma can take many forms. It can be staying away from a certain place to reliving the experience as if it were happening right now. According to SAMHSA (https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/trauma) 61% of men and 51% of women have coped with a traumatic event in their lifetime. Trauma causes feelings of helplessness, weakens a sense of being, and reduces the ability to feel emotions. Immediate emotions of trauma include shock and denial. Not dealing with the trauma could lead to anxiety or depression because the person is blocking their feelings. Trauma therapy and counseling can help most people reduce symptoms and begin living a healthy life.

Common Signs or Symptoms of Trauma
Sadness
Anger
Fear
Nightmares
Flashbacks
Headaches
Nausea
Dizziness
Inability to sleep or stay asleep
Outbursts (anger or crying)
Difficulty with relationships
Signs of trauma are both physical and mental.

Three Main Types of Trauma

Acute-coming from one single event, such as being in a car accident.
Chronic-occurring many times, such as domestic abuse.
Complex– being exposed to a series of difficult personal situations, such as car accident, being robbed, and being fired. This happens in a specific time frame or place.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a specific type of trauma that develops in some people after experiencing a scary or dangerous event. Studies indicate that women are more likely to develop PTSD. People with posttraumatic stress disorder relive the event, stay away from places that remind them of the event, edgy or having trouble sleeping, have trouble remembering key point about the event, take on a high level of guilt, and have strong negative feelings about the event. It is natural to feel fear during and after the event. When these symptoms continue for at least one month after and happen daily, a trained therapist can help reduce the concern. It takes time but if client stick with treatment they can improve their lives and relationships. All the symptoms may never go completely away but the client will learn coping skills to find pleasure in everyday activities that before were struggles.

Trauma Therapy

Several forms of therapy have helped people. Trauma therapy seeks out ways to help people feel whole and in control again. Below are three of the most common types of trauma therapy.

Types of Therapy

The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders (https://centerforanxietydisorders.com/what-is-trauma) recommends Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on awareness of thoughts and beliefs. Knowing what beliefs, a person has about the event or situation allows the therapist to help the person reframe the event in a healthy way, thus helping the person reduce anxious feelings about the trauma. CBT also helps a person see themselves differently. Often times people coping with trauma feel like everyone sees them as a victim who can’t manage their emotions. CBT focuses on changing thought patterns thus helping trauma survivors leave the traumatic concern in past and live in the present.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy ( https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-exposure-therapy) is another method of trauma therapy. This tool helps people identify triggers connected to the event. Once the triggers are known, the client slowly begins to face their fear. An example of this tool occurs when a client who was hit at a specific street corner, in session with the therapist, pictures the street corner. When they are able to do this with little fear, they would visit the street corner. Lastly, they would drive through the street corner.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy (https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/narrative-therapylink) separates the person from the issue. It helps people see the concern differently because it allows for different stories to be told and received. Some tools include journaling and letter writing. When a victim writes a letter to the situation or abuser, they become stronger because the other becomes powerless.

Kinds of Trauma Therapy

Short-term therapy lasts for a few sessions and is usually done right after the traumatic event. It helps people get over the initial shock of the situation. Long-term therapy could last several years and generally involves rewriting the narrative of the situation and framing it into a less scary event.

To learn more about trauma and PTSD read my blog ( 8 Tips For Coping With PTSD), call, or email angelie@pillarsofhopecounseling.com

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