Trauma can take many forms, but the common thread seems to be a negative experience (whether momentary or prolonged) that hits you as being too fast, too scary and too intense to process in the moment, as well as one you feel or felt alone with. The lack of safety felt in that experience can create echoes of constriction, isolation and pain as you move through the world. Those living in bodies recognized as having marginalized identities (i.e. not white, cis, straight, able-bodied, the list goes on) are even more likely to experience a chronic, and very real form of unsafety moving through the world. Thankfully, therapy can help.
When trauma has affected your life, trauma recovery is the pathway back to yourself
The experience of trauma can lodge fear into your body, literally blocking access to the connection you need to unlock creativity, wisdom and joy. The first step is the re-establishment of basic safety, or re-teaching your brain and your body that the present moment can be benevolent. From there, you can begin to open to the very connection, both with yourself and others, that can help you reclaim your full life experience.
Trauma lives in your thoughts and feelings, but often gets stuck in your body. Here’s how I can help you
If your body doesn’t trust that you are safe, your brain has no choice but to stay in a loop of fearful and trauma-based thoughts and expectations. Many of the tools I work with address the nervous system first, activating the physical relaxation response and the “parasympathetic nervous system” (the state we are in when digesting, deeply resting etc) so that the brain has physiological permission to change.
Understanding how you responded to the traumatic events is how you start healing from trauma
Many of the “trauma symptoms” you are coming to therapy for were probably very smart and effective strategies your nervous system came up with to keep you safe when you were in physical or emotional danger. Maybe you learned to mentally stay a step (or 100 steps) ahead, or to tell people what you know they want to hear even if it’s not your truth, or to blow up relationships if someone seems to be getting too close. Together, we can look at strategies like these with honor and respect, thanking them for trying to help you then and now. We’ll also bring in more expansive, life-affirming thought patterns and behavioral strategies that are more aligned with receiving what you want rather than just avoiding catastrophe.
What if my traumatic events happened long ago or in my childhood?
The good news and the bad news about trauma is that it stays in the body until you turn toward it and work with it. While this fact can cause a lot of pain and suffering until you’re able to get help, it also means that it is never too late to work through something even if the specifics of your memory around it may be ancient or fuzzy.
How trauma recovery helps
Before trauma gets worked through it can leave you feeling locked up and isolated even when you are around others. Through a slow and methodical process of trauma recovery, building safety and building connection bit by bit, you begin to access things like curiosity, spontaneity and access to joy which can make life feel worth living again.
Is counseling for trauma the same for kids, teens and adults?
Whenever I work with trauma I use the same guiding principles of basic safety and connection. Depending on the age and stage of the client this can look a multitude of different ways in practice. With children I often use play therapy, music or visual art, and sensory-based techniques to help kids feel safe and connected again. With teens and adults many of those elements may come into play as well, often joined by more classical “talk therapy” approaches as well as somatic (physiological) approaches to help build safety, insight, meaning, and understanding around the most difficult parts of their life story.
If you would like to have a chat to explore working together, please reach out by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 802-671-4037.