Trauma & PTSD
You’re struggling to function in a world that feels anything but normal now.
You can’t sleep or concentrate. The memories of what happened haunt you.
Please know that we are here to help.
If you have navigated your way to a page about trauma counseling, odds are that you’ve had something bad happen to you. People in your situation can go a long while without help, hoping that time will heal the pain from their trauma. Sometimes they are right. But sometimes, instead of resolving itself, trauma digs in its heels. It causes symptoms that can range from annoying and uncomfortable to incapacitating.
Trauma Comes in Many Different Forms
The American Psychological Association defines trauma as “an emotional response to a terrible event.” PTSD is a psychological disorder that can result from experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. You don’t have to have PTSD to be suffering from the effects of trauma.
Trauma can be separated into two categories, “Big T”or “Little t” trauma. “Big T” trauma is the kind that results from a horrific event. Examples include a shooting, a catastrophic weather event, or a significant experience that is unrelentingly stressful like a deployment. “Little t” trauma is the kind that happens over time or from an event that would not make the news but nonetheless harms an individual or group. The adjective “little” is not meant to minimize the impact of these kinds of stressful events. Trauma is trauma, whether it would make the news or not. Both of these kinds of traumas are real, valid, and can have a significant impact on a person’s functioning. Ultimately it can shape how they see themselves in the world. If you’ve suffered from either form of trauma, you can benefit from receiving professional trauma therapy.
When bad things happen, whether a one-time event or repeated over time, one of our natural defenses is to question ourselves. We tend to take the blame for our own negative reactions. For example, self-blame can look like this: “Why am I reacting this way? Am I crazy for feeling this bad? That happened to me several years ago; what’s the matter with me that I’m not over it yet?” Unfortunately, directing this kind of negative energy at ourselves does not make the situation better. In fact, it makes us feel worse, much worse. And we still have the trauma, stuck there in our bodies, making our brains foggy and our emotions run amok.
Trauma and PTSD Causes Physical and Emotional Symptoms
Unresolved trauma, whether it becomes PTSD or not, is something that can significantly impact your quality of life. It can affect your sleep, mood, relationships with loved ones, and your health.
The Symptoms of Trauma and PTSD Include:
- Trying to avoid people, places, or things, that remind you of the traumatic event or events
- Thinking poorly about yourself or the world
- Memory problems and the inability to concentrate
- Self-isolating or relationship issues
- Not being able to enjoy the things that used to make you happy
- Being emotionally “numb”
- Exaggerated startle response
- Being on guard against potential threats
- Sleep problems
- Irritability or anger outbursts
Knowing this, trauma counseling doesn’t just focus on what’s happening in your mind. We talk about the effects it’s had on your body as well. For example, someone with trauma may be very tense and have terrible muscle pain. These are called somatic symptoms. So, we use a combination of talk therapy (such as with cognitive behavioral therapy) with EMDR and mindfulness techniques can help them loosen up and relax their muscles.
Trauma Therapy for Active or Former Service Members
Service members and veterans often have somatic symptoms as a result of what they have seen and experienced as they serve our country. This type of fallout can make their adjustment to civilian life feel very difficult. This can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression. If you are a former or current member of the armed services and can relate to these feelings, please reach out. We are happy to talk with you about our services or try and help you locate other services to meet your needs.
Trauma Therapy is Effective in Reducing the Symptoms of PTSD
Fortunately, trauma and PTSD treatment is well researched. So, the options available for therapists are very promising. EMDR, in particular, has been endorsed as a treatment for PTSD by several reputable, national and international organizations, including the World Health Organization, the United States Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, and the American Psychiatric Association. At Nova Terra Therapy, we use a combination approach to treat the symptoms of trauma and PTSD. We use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and EMDR to provide you with the most effective treatment outcomes.
What Does Trauma Counseling Look Like?
Counseling for trauma and PTSD starts out with regular talk therapy like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This gives you and your therapist time to get to know one another and time for you to assess whether you feel comfortable working together. Sharing some of the most difficult experiences of your life requires a lot of trust. So, if you don’t feel that sense of trust in your therapist, it’s important that we find you a better fit for you and your needs. The therapists at Nova Terra specialize in trauma, but if you don’t feel like you can work well with us, then we will refer you to other area therapists. We truly mean this, we want you to be comfortable with whomever you get treatment from.
Once you have gotten to know your therapist and know you can work together treatment can begin. Your therapist will work with you to ensure that you have a large toolbox of strategies for feeling safe, mindful, and present. Through grounding techniques and mindfulness, your therapist will give you a set of skills for coping with stressful memories and triggering events.
EMDR for Trauma and PTSD
Once your toolbox is well-stocked, you and your therapist will talk about moving into the EMDR work. At this time, your therapist will introduce the equipment that is used to help you with reprocessing your memories. You will be introduced to a light bar, an audio option in the form of a headset, and handheld devices called “tappers.” Each of these is a method for creating what is called bilateral stimulation. This basically means that both sides of your brain get activated by stimulation to both sides of your body. While this can sound complicated, it isn’t. In fact, people engage in bilateral stimulation (rhythmic right-left movements) through many everyday activities, including walking! Bilateral stimulation is a natural way that humans process and learn. EMDR harnesses that and uses it to help you to sort through traumatic memories in a way that engages both your brain and your body.
Still don’t quite get EMDR? That’s okay! Try Thinking About it Like This:
Imagine that you have an office with a ton of important and not-so-important papers in it. And you have an office assistant who is not great at their job. They create file folders and label them. This is a good start, but when you look inside the folders, you discover they filed all sorts of papers together. But, the papers don’t seem to be related to each other at all. When you ask them, “Hey, why is this electric bill filed in the same folder as this marketing flyer?” he responds, “They are both pink papers with blue ink on them.” Their brain made a link between the two items of the same color and decided to file them together, even though they were separate things. They didn’t recognize that there might be a better or more efficient way to think about things.
Our brains, especially when we are young, do what the young office assistant did. We create folders and then file memories away in unexpected, surprising, and sometimes unhelpful ways. The more we use this filing system, the more real and logical it seems to us, even though it’s not that logical at all. Unfortunately, this system is worse than no system at all. It makes us feel confused and out of control when we need to feel competent and in charge. EMDR addresses those issues and helps to fix them.
EMDR helps re-file and reprocess memories and put them in a folder that makes more sense. So, a child might file her Dad’s death in a file marked, “things that are my fault.” But, EMDR can help her adult as an adult to create a new file labeled, “losses I have experienced.” The new filing system helps guide how she feels about her Dad’s death. It will be empowering for her to feel sad and grieve the loss of her dad, rather than spending a lot of energy and angst feeling ashamed and guilty. The result is relief from a burden that she has carried her whole life.
Not sure if EMDR is for you? Talk to your therapist, ask a ton of questions, ask to see the equipment, and get the information you need to make an informed decision for yourself. You are in the driver’s seat of your own healing and you get to call the shots.
For More Information About EMDR, Visit These Sources:
Nova Terra Therapy Provides Trauma Therapy and PTSD Treatment That’s Unique to Your Needs
The therapists at Nova Terra Therapy feel passionately about helping to alleviate our clients’ suffering. So, whether you choose EMDR or another treatment, we will work with you to get your life back to normal. What this can mean for you is real relief for the first time in a long time. Imagine not having to worry about triggers all the time. Ultimately, you will be able to think about the bad things that have happened to you without the flood of physical symptoms that leave you shaky and afraid. Wouldn’t it feel good to be more in control of your own reactions?
If this sounds appealing to you, then we hope you will reach out. We are happy to talk further with you about our practice, our approach. We are happy to provide you with whatever information you need to feel comfortable.
Begin Trauma Therapy and PTSD Treatment in Burke, VA
You deserve a life free of the pain and suffering your trauma has caused. We want you to find relief from the symptoms of trauma and lead a happy and healthy life. To begin trauma treatment in Burke, VA or online in Virginia, please follow these steps:
- Reach out to our Washington DC area counseling clinic and set up a free 15-minute phone consultation to determine if trauma treatment is a good fit for you,
- Meet with one of our trauma therapists,
- Begin trauma treatment and regain control of your thoughts and emotions
Other services offered by Nova Terra Therapy:
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