Does a horrible event replay in your mind all the time, making it difficult to concentrate, remember things, or think?
Are nightmares waking you up so often that you feel afraid to go to sleep?
Is it hard to feel connected to other people, even those you love?
Does it feel like a terrible event completely stole your life and you’ll never feel “normal” again?
These are common reactions people have After surviving a trauma.
But what is a “trauma,” and did you go through one?
What is Trauma?
Everybody has gone through something frightening.
However, a trauma is any event in which a person fears for his or her life or safety.
Or for the life and safety of another.
Trauma requires “actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.”
Examples of trauma are a car accident, severe complications while giving birth to your baby, your life was threatened by someone, or sexual assault.
Trauma can happen at any age and to any person.
Nobody is immune from terrible and unexpected events happening in their life.
Which means nobody is immune to the possibility of negative psychological reactions to trauma.
Even the “toughest” of us.
Changes After Trauma
After a trauma, people often feel like they don’t know themselves any longer. The changes in their body, emotions, and mind confuse and scare them.
They feel like they are “Going Crazy.”
Sometimes they worry they are a burden to other people.
Too often, people feel like they are weak, or should “just get over it.” Maybe they hear friends or family say this to them.
And then there’s the guilt.
Guilt for living if others didn’t. Guilt for all the changes happening in their mind and body that they don’t understand. Guilt that loved ones have to watch them struggle. Guilt that they can’t be strong for their loved ones. Guilt because they believe it’s their own fault the trauma happened in the first place.
Trauma has so much guilt and shame.
Common Reactions to Trauma
Unwanted and distressing memories
Emotionally or physically upset when reminded of the trauma
Avoidance of anything that reminds you of the traumatic event
Negative thoughts about yourself or the world around you
Loss of memory
Feeling distant from other people
Having difficulty feeling love for people you care about
No longer interested in things you used to like or enjoy
Feeling numb or empty
Unable to feel happy or good
How Long Do the Changes Last?
In the days and weeks following a traumatic event, it is natural to have some prolonged effects.
When people continue to have a significant number or intensity of the trauma reactions for more than a month after the trauma, a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is often given.
Sometimes people don’t react to a trauma right away. Three or four months may pass, maybe even years. Then suddenly they are “triggered” by something and might experience the trauma reactions listed above.
No Matter What Caused Your Trauma, Or How Long You've Had Symptoms
There is Hope.
Thankfully today we have decades of research focused on helping people heal after trauma.
The field of neuroscience tells us that we can reshape our brains at any age.
Your brain changed in response to the trauma, which proves it is able to change again in response to treatment.
In treatment people often feel some relief even in the first session.
Just like with physical therapy, the pain of therapy results in healing, growth, and renewed strength.
What to Expect from Therapy
- Learn new coping skills designed to calm your neural system
- Identify and develop your personal strengths that have helped you overcome difficult events in the past
- Learn about why your body responds the way it does to certain “triggers,” identify what your triggers are, decrease your responsiveness to those triggers, and plan how to protect your psychological safety when confronted with triggers in the future
- Practice exercises to use during the week. One hour a week in session is not going to be effective if you are not applying what we discuss throughout the rest of the week. To change your brain’s response to a trauma event will take effort outside the therapy office.
What Not to expect from therapy
You will not necessarily need to share a detailed description of the trauma. You may if you would like to, but that usually occurs after many sessions when you are already seeing significant healing.
Therapy is not a place to weekly talk about whatever new event is upsetting you. If you would like to see results, we will be focused on a module that results in healing specifically from trauma. You will have 5-10 minutes to share briefly about events from the week, if you would like to. And then we will refocus the session on healing the trauma response your body is suffering from.
Our goal in therapy is to heal the broken, make you whole again, renew your sense of self, and get you your life back.
What Would Your Life be Like if the Trauma was Healed?
Ready to get your life back?
Call me at (402) 937-9700 or email Christina@RiverCairnCounseling.com.
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Everybody has gone through something frightening. However, a trauma is any event in which a person fears for his or her life or safety. Or for the life and safety of another. After a trauma, people often tell me in therapy that they don't feel like they know...
- If you are currently working with me and we have developed a safety plan together, follow that safety plan.
- If you do not feel able to keep yourself or others safe right now, please call 9-1-1 or go to the closest hospital ER for help.
- If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or homicide, call 9-1-1 or 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Phone: (402) 937-9700