Trauma Care--Getting over your past

The word "trauma"

Image by Verne Ho


The word “trauma” in every day language means highly stressful event. The key to understanding traumatic events is that to what degree it overwhelms a person’s ability to cope. It is an individual’s subjective experience that defines whether an event is or is not traumatic. A young child being criticized by a teacher, can be more traumatized than an adult experiencing public humiliation. 

A traumatic event is determined as one in which you perceive a threat to your life, body or your mind. The other significant part of the definition is your reaction to the event. If you can cope with the event, even if it is a serious threat, it isn't trauma. Trauma happens when your ability to cope is completely overwhelmed.

 

We have experience treating several types of trauma such as childhood adverse experiences, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and negative beliefs that contribute to anxiety or low self-confidence.

We provided integrated trauma care to clients. Your therapist may combine Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR),  Internal Family System (IFS), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), creative arts, Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, attachment and mindfulness based treatment to help you navigate the journey to recovery. ​

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

 

 

 

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the relationship among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We will coach you to understand how changes in any one domain can improve functioning in the other domains. For example, altering a person’s unhelpful thinking can lead to healthier behaviors and improved emotion regulation. CBT targets current problems and symptoms and is typically delivered over 12-16 sessions in either individual or group format. However, longer treatment might be helpful to cope with secondary problems caused by the traumatic event. 


What happens in CBT?

In CBT, you will learn about trauma and its negative effects on you. If you are a minor, parents can also participated in family sessions. Parents will be educated on trauma and taught parenting skills that can help them understand and interact in healthy ways with you. Sessions may be held with you alone, the parents alone, and you and parents together.
Your therapist will provide relaxation techniques training. We can use the skills during the therapeutic process as well as later on. Your therapist will coach you to talk about the experience and help you develop a trauma narrative that organizes your thoughts about the experience. You will also learn how to express your feelings appropriately. Your therapist will also guide you to exam thoughts related to the traumatic experience and learn to adopt more helpful thought pattern. Our goal is to help you develop a greater sense of confidence and believe in your own power.

CBT treatment also usually involves efforts to change behavioral patterns. We might practice role plays to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others. We may suggest you revisit the location or type of location where the event happened. We can also do it together. We can either be with you you in person or through online therapy tools.  This is done gradually, with exposure beginning slowly and more elements of the scene being added a little at a time. The exposure allows you to face the situation again, this time relying on coping skills you learn earlier in the therapy.

 

EMDR for Traumatic Experiences & Negative Self-Beliefs

 

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a "psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. ". In EMDR sessions, Therapists guide clients to focus on a troubling memory, emotion or body sensation while moving the eyes rapidly ( or slowly) back and forth following therapists' fingers. This rapid eye movement, which also occurs naturally during our dreaming, seems to be helpful in processing unpleasant memories. 


What is it used for? 

EMDR is used to treat attachment trauma, anxiety, depression, guilt, anger, and post-traumatic reactions.  It is also proven to be helpful in reclaiming yo boosting confidence and self-esteem.

What happens in EMDR? 

It is different for everyone, because the experiential healing process is guided from within. Sometimes past memories associated with the current concern come up. These may also be targeted with EMDR. Sometimes a painful memory brings up unpleasant emotions or body sensations. This is ABSOLUTELY normal and often passes within a few minutes with eye movements. The disturbing emotion or memory often fade into the past and lose its power.

Why bring up a painful memory?

When painful memories are avoided or inadequately processed, they still have power over you. A flashback or nightmare can feel as upsetting and overwhelming as the original experience. In therapy, and with EMDR, you can face the memory in a safer and less intrusive way, so that you have a new opportunity to integrate and process information.

Do I have control?

It is hard to predict the thoughts, feelings, or memories that might come up during EMDR. It depends upon each individual's natural healing process. You are ALWAYS in charge of whether to continue or stop. You are always in charge of how much to disclose to me. It works well with children who cannot fully verbalize their thoughts and feelings. 

Are there any precautions? 

Yes. There are specific protocols to be followed depending on clients' presenting problem, emotional stability, medical condition, and other factors. We will teach you tons of containing/soothing techniques before starting processing. 

What happens afterwards? 

You may continue to process the memories for days or even weeks after the session. You might experience strong feelings, new insights or dreams. It is normal process of  continuation of the healing process. You can use the container skills to manage strong feelings/sensations and address residual concerns with your therapist next session.  As the distressing symptoms fade, you can work with me on developing new skills and ways of coping.