Healing from Trauma/PTSD
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” – Laurell K. Hamilton
Most of us will experience trauma at some point in our lifetime, whether from an accident, abuse, or assault or from war, natural disaster, or sudden loss or death of a loved one.
The experience of a traumatic event may be direct or indirect. Indirect trauma could occur from the following:
- Witnessing an event as it happens to someone else
- Learning about an event in which a friend or loved one experienced an actual or threatened death
- Having repeated exposure to traumatic events, such as those experienced by emergency medical personnel.
While many people recover from trauma over time with the support of family and friends, some have lasting effects and continue to feel emotional pain, fear, and confusion long after the event has passed.
- Recurring, intrusive, and upsetting memories about the traumatic event
- Emotional distress from reminders
- Physical reactions to reminders
- Avoiding related thoughts or feelings about the traumatic event
- Avoiding specific locations, sights, sounds, and situations that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative Cognition and Mood Symptoms
- Difficulty remembering details of the traumatic event
- Overly negative thoughts about yourself and the world since the event
- Excessive blaming of yourself or others for what happened
- Depression, numbness, or guilt about the trauma
- Loss of interest in activities that were once considered enjoyable prior to the traumatic event
- Change in habits or behavior since the trauma
- Feeling isolated
- Anger, irritability, and hypervigilance
- Aggressive, reckless, or destructive behavior, including self-harm
- Easily startled
- Difficulties concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
If you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms and they are causing you distress and/or interfering with a number of areas in your life, then you may be struggling with posttraumatic stress or PTSD. It is important for you to know that the impact of trauma is treatable.
Treatment for Trauma/PTSD
I use a trauma-informed approach in my practice. This includes adhering to the following components:
- Realizing the widespread impact of trauma
- Recognizing the signs of trauma
- Understanding potential paths to recovery
- Integrating knowledge about trauma in my practice
- Avoiding re-traumatizing
Key Principles of a Trauma-Informed Approach
- Peer support
- Cultural, historical, and gender issues
A trauma-informed approach to counseling aligns well with Solution-focused Brief Therapy (SFBT). SFBT is a collaborative, client-centered, and inclusive therapy that explores, highlights, and expands on your resiliencies, strengths, and resources. See Solution-Focused Brief Therapy for Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and (Dis)Ability for additional information on SFBT.
Additional therapies shown to effectively treat PTSD incorporating a trauma-informed approach include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Mindfulness Therapy. ACT is a mindfulness-based and behavioral therapy that helps you to let go of what you can not change and focus on what you can change or do that is of value to you. It aims to prevent and heal trauma and promote resiliency and wellbeing, individually and systemically.
CBT that incorporates trauma-informed, or trauma-focused practices, is referred to TF-CBT. This is a particular type of CBT that focuses specifically on the impact of trauma. Cognitive and behavioral techniques are used to help modify distorted or unhelpful thinking (thoughts of fear and guilt) about the trauma and negative reactions and behaviors to the trauma that create and maintain the symptoms of trauma/PTSD.
Mindfulness Therapy that uses a trauma-informed therapy approach includes modified traditional meditation practices with grounding and self-regulation techniques. These strategies help to maintain balance in the nervous system, which can help traumatized people manage their symptoms and feel safer. Specific mindfulness therapies well-suited to treat trauma/PTSD include Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy. These approaches address several core symptoms of PTSD, including avoidance, hypervigilance, and feelings of shame, guilt, and disconnectedness. Follow the links below for additional information on these therapies.
If you live in Florida and think you may be experiencing posttraumatic stress or PTSD, I am confident that I can help. I invite you to contact me today for a free phone consultation. Let’s get connected online and move forward on your path to healing, growing, and thriving.
Please see additional information about my telehealth and online services at Telehealth in Florida: Online Therapy for Florida Residents with Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and (Dis)Ability-related Issues