The two myths about trauma that I hear the most frequently are: Trauma has to be severe to cause symptoms of PTSD; and Recovery from trauma shouldn’t take a long time.
Trauma is not only caused by severe, life-threatening events. When most people think of trauma they often picture a horrific or life-threatening event - trauma with a capital "T". But consider that neglect is one of the most common causes of childhood PTSD symptoms. So if neglect can cause symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, then we have to redefine our idea of trauma so that we can understand the true source of our symptoms.
Trauma is not defined by the magnitude of the event. Trauma is defined by how it is stored in the memory circuit. To have lasting symptoms from trauma means that the memory has not been stored in a fully processed form. In its raw form, the memory still contains the same sights, sounds, smells and feelings that it did when it occurred. Hence the nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts that can last years.
PTSD happens when something gets in the way of the mind's natural ability to heal after an upsetting event. Your body and mind have natural healing abilities. If you cut your finger and require stitches, it is not the stitch that heals the wound. Unless the cut is repeatedly traumatized or infected, the cut will heal by itself. Similarly the mind is capable of healing itself from trauma if nothing gets in the way. It is the therapist's job to help discover what is holding back this natural process.
You can benefit from treatment even if you don’t identify with having experienced trauma with a capital “T”. Stubborn symptoms such as depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol cravings are often the result of trauma. But if you are defining trauma incorrectly, you will miss the root cause of your symptoms. I use EMDR and cognitive processing therapy to treat traumas of all sizes. Both were designed to decrease symptoms caused by unprocessed memories relatively quickly and both have been empirically shown to be effective.
Have you ever thought, "It shouldn't bother me because it happened so long ago?" This is a false belief that tends to keep people away from the very help they need to recover.
If healing from trauma followed a linear course you could set your watch after a traumatic event and wait for the symptoms to disappear. We know now that if we are triggered by something in our environment to recall a past trauma, it is as if time folds together, and suddenly, the event is happening in the present. We experience the same physiological symptoms that were experienced at the time of the initial event: fear, tensed muscles, perspiration, upset stomach, etc. This is simply how the brain operates.
I offer a supportive, non-judgmental, environment to allow you to process whatever memories are causing you symptoms. I have worked with men and women, many with severe histories of trauma, and have seen the process of healing unfold over and over again for my clients. I use cognitive processing therapy, a 12-week individualized program, and EMDR therapy. Both methods have proven to be effective in the treatment of trauma. If you are suffering, I know that therapy can help.
Call or email for a free phone consultation at 917-563-4210.