If you’ve experienced trauma or abuse, you may be struggling with frightening memories, upsetting emotions, or a sense of constant danger. Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. You may have gaps in your memory. You may feel depressed or anxious, have difficulty sleeping, or be engaging in destructive activities in order to escape.
Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world.
Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.
A number of risk factors make people susceptible to emotional and psychological trauma. You are more likely to be traumatized by a stressful experience if you’re already under a heavy stress load or have recently suffered a series of losses. You are also more likely to be traumatized by a new situation if you’ve been traumatized before – especially if the earlier trauma occurred in childhood.
PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) is an acute form of emotional and psychological trauma. The primary symptoms of PTSD include intrusive memories or flashbacks, avoiding things that remind you of the traumatic event, and living in a constant state of “red alert”.
Complex PTSD – also known as developmental trauma – is the result of abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences in childhood. Traumatic experiences in childhood can have a severe and long-lasting effect. Children who have been traumatized see the world as a frightening and dangerous place. When childhood trauma is not resolved, this fundamental sense of fear and helplessness carries over into adulthood, setting the stage for further trauma and affecting the trauma survivor’s ability to feel safe in the world, to trust others, to form healthy relationships, and to handle stress.
It’s a good idea to seek professional help if you’re:
- Emotionally numb and disconnected from others
- Having trouble functioning at home or work
- Suffering from pervasive fear, anxiety, or depression
- Unable to trust others enough to form close, healthy, satisfying relationships
- Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
- Avoiding things that remind you of the trauma
- Using alcohol or drugs to feel better
When bad things happen, it can take awhile to get over the pain and feel safe again. But whether the traumatic experience happened many years ago or yesterday, you can heal and move on.
I use Emotion-Focused Therapy for Complex PTSD when working with survivors of trauma, abuse and neglect. Emotion-Focused Therapy is a research-based, well-proven therapy approach for helping trauma survivors work through the painful effects of traumatic experience and build healthier, happier lives and relationships.
Please call me at 503-545-6312 or email me today to schedule your appointment or to learn more about my approach to working with trauma survivors.