Trauma: It's Complicated

The tangle of trauma can feel impossible to unravel.

When you think of trauma and PTSD, what comes to mind? Is it a scene from a movie or a show where a character is having vivid visual and auditory flashbacks of something terrible happening to them? Do you picture someone curled up in a ball with their hands over their ears, shouting and crying?

While PTSD and trauma can manifest in the way it's portrayed on TV and in the movies, most trauma isn't so straightforward. 

There's acute trauma, stemming from sudden, one-time events like a car accident or an assault. Chronic trauma results from prolonged exposure to adverse conditions. Complex or relational trauma is based in attachment wounding, like enduring a childhood full of neglect and emotional abuse. Helping professionals can develop vicarious trauma due to the heaviness of the stories they hear and see day after day. 

No matter the type, trauma has a profound impact on daily life.

People who experience trauma know how much it causes day-to-day suffering. Trauma impacts relationships, alters one's sense of self, and twists feelings of safety, love, and belonging into something unrecognizable. 

Trauma can mimic depression, with trauma survivors experiencing low mood, lack of interest in formerly enjoyable activities, hopelessness, and detachment. 

Too Much. Too Fast. Too Soon.

Trauma overwhelms your body's natural responses to threat.

Trauma experts often describe trauma as anything that is too much, happens too fast, or happens too soon. You might have been too young to protect yourself, or whatever was going on was so overwhelming you had to shut down in some way. In an acute traumatic event like a car accident, everything happened too fast, leaving you feeling disoriented and overwhelmed. 

You're still on high alert even though the threat has passed.

When you're dealing with the aftereffects of trauma, whether it be acute or chronic, your whole system continues to respond as if the threat to your safety is still active. This leads to: 

  • Emotional ups and downs caused by nervous system dysregulation

  • Dissociation or numbing

  • Relationship difficulties or repeating the same unhealthy relationship patterns over and over

  • Persistent feelings of fear, as if something bad is going to happen

Trauma is isolating. People who experience trauma are often alone during the experience, and continue to feel alone for a long time afterwards. 

You've been persisting alone for so long, but you know it isn't doing you any good. 

Trauma Therapy: A Path to Wholeness

A different path is possible.

Seeking therapy for trauma means you don't have to continue stumbling through the dark, hoping things get better on their own.  

We can approach healing from trauma in a lot of different ways in therapy. Importantly, you'll have choice in how to proceed; choice you may not have had in the past. 

In my practice, I work with trauma in the following ways:

  • Through a nervous system lens: Helping you learn how to track and regulate your nervous system is a huge step on the road to trauma recovery. 

  • In a body-centered way: Many folks with trauma are (understandably) disconnected from their bodies. Therapy for trauma helps you reconnect gently and on your own time in a way that feels safe and nurturing.

  • Keeping attachment in mind: Trauma and attachment are like two strands of a braided rope, and it can be tough to tell where one ends and the other begins. Understanding your attachment system is key to moving forward from trauma. 

  • Using attachment-focused EMDR or trauma-informed ACT: Attachment-focused EMDR works on building your inner strengths and resources before tackling the hard stuff. Trauma-informed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy keeps you present so you can begin building distance from difficult past experiences. This power combo is super helpful in healing trauma. 

It's not going to be easy.

Trauma is like an earthquake laid waste to your internal cityscape. Rebuilding is going to take massive amounts of hard work, sweat, and tears. With trauma therapy, you don't have to do all the heavy lifting on your own anymore. 

I offer a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation to anyone interested in working with me. Reach out today to get started.