If you are concerned that you, or someone you love, may be suffering from the psychological effects of trauma and/or PTSD, here is information that can help.
Maybe You Have Been Experiencing . . .
Have you experienced an event or events that felt threatening but you felt powerless to them change or escape from them?
Are you easily startled and constantly on guard looking out for danger?
Do you find yourself actively avoiding reminders of a painful past event/s, and when a reminder does occur you experience panic and sense that you are re-experiencing the event/s?
Perhaps you find it difficult to sleep or concentrate and that you are easily irritated and snap at others?
Have you found yourself turning to substances or other potentially harmful behavior in order to cope with these symptoms?
If you answered, “Yes” to some of these questions you may be experiencing the stress symptoms of trauma, which can also include anxiety, depression, anger, and grief. If the event/s occurred many months or years ago and still symptoms persist, you may be experiencing a more serious state of traumatization known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Trauma Can Drastically Impair Normal Functioning . . .
Trauma literally hijacks your nervous system, both disrupting your ability to function in the world and maintain healthy relationships.Trauma can turn your everyday life into a minefield of threats where any misstep can send you spiraling into a terrifying and painful flashback that feels impossible to control. Additionally, because trauma directly affects your body, you may be experiencing physical symptoms such as migraines, chronic fatigue, and other types of chronic pain.
There is Hope
Though the effects of trauma can be incredibly painful and confusing, and make you feel as if you have lost control of your own brain and body, there is hope. There is hope because once you recognize that you are experiencing the symptoms of trauma, you are no longer alone; you are now a part of a group of millions of Americans with a problem that is treatable through effective forms of trauma counseling. Many have come before you and overcome their trauma to go on living healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives, and you can too.
What is Trauma and PTSD?
Trauma is actually fairly common, with anywhere from 50-60% of Americans experiencing a traumatic event in their lifetime. Trauma can occur through such experiences as a car accident, child abuse and neglect, sexual assault, war, natural disaster, or witnessing a murder or sever injury. However, because trauma is about a perceived threat, determining whether or not a particular event is traumatizing is complex and unique to every individual. This is why three people can experience the same event and one walks away un-traumatized, another experiences severe trauma symptoms for a few weeks, and the other ends up with prolonged PTSD.
Additionally, traumatic memories are stored in an entirely different part of the brain than normal memories, which cause them to be invasive and remembered as present moment experiences, instead of events in the past. This is why PTSD can become so overwhelming and disruptive to everyday life.
Healing from Trauma
As a psychotherapist I am trained to both assess for the signs and symptoms of trauma as well as treat it. In counseling we will go over in depth what trauma and PTSD are, how they may be affecting you, and how to heal. In my practice I primarily use Sensorimotor Psychotherapy as a treatment method for trauma recovery. Sensorimotor psychotherapy is an exceptionally effective body-centered approach to working with trauma. It goes right to the root of the problem and safely helps you process the your trauma and heal. You always control the pace of your trauma therapy and the approach does not require touch.
Trauma treatment in counseling is often a gradual process, as there is no quick fix. However, within the first few sessions you may begin to experience palpable relief from your symptoms and a sense of empowerment and control returning to your life. This taste of relief can often provide a sense of trust and faith that things can get better and the motivation to continue the transformation. Ultimately the goal is for you to no longer experience the painful, limiting, and invasive effects of trauma and be able to walk in the world without fear or panic, but instead with a sense of peace, ease, and confidence.
Perhaps You Still Have Concerns?
I am terrified of the memories of my trauma, and having to share them with a therapist feels overwhelming.
Though there are many instances in counseling in which telling your story can be helpful, trauma is generally not one of them, at least not at first. In the Sensorimotor approach to trauma recovery you will initially be guided to simply focus on the body sensations associated with the trauma, but to steer clear of the memories and even emotions associated with it. This is because trauma can only be processed and healed while your nervous system is within your unique window of tolerance. The memories and feelings associated with your trauma can push you out of this window.
The beginning of trauma recovery is heavily focused on identifying and developing resources that help to keep you calm and grounded. If at any point traumatic memories threaten to overwhelm you and push you out of your window we will use these resources to bring you back within your window of tolerance where we can safely continue the work.
My friends and family say that I don’t have PTSD and that I should just get over it.
Only a trained mental health professional can help you to determine whether or not you have PTSD or other symptoms of trauma. It is important to remember that because trauma directly affects your body, it is impossible to simply “get over it.” Oftentimes, the harder you try to get over it the more frustrated and overwhelmed you end up feeling. Trauma pushes your nervous system into a perpetual state of over and under activation causing you to alternate between a state of hyper-vigilance to foggy numbness. This is a neurological condition that is out of your conscious control.
Take the Next Step Toward Healing
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of trauma I encourage you not to wait to get support. Though it may feel daunting to begin trauma counseling, you may want to ask yourself if the potential risks of beginning counseling outweigh the consequences of continuing to suffer? It is important that you find a counselor, whether myself or someone else, trained in trauma work and who can help you determine what it is that is causing your suffering and how best to overcome this challenge and heal from it.
To schedule your initial consultation please click on the CONTACT tab. Your first appointment is 100% risk free, meaning that you have the opportunity to see if psychotherapy is right for you and if I am a good fit for you as a therapist. If you choose not to continue you will not be billed for your consultation.
Also, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding the treatment of trauma and PTSD.
I wish you all the best on your journey towards healing,
Dan Entmacher MA, LPC