A traumatic experience is anything a person finds disturbing or distressing. Typically we think of traumas as major, life changing events like abuse, violence, life threatening situations, etc. That is definitely true – those are all examples of traumatic situations. However, limiting our definition of trauma does not respect the impact all adverse life experiences have on our functioning.
When do I know if I need therapy to address past traumas or adverse life experiences?
We all have adverse life experiences. When the memories associated with these experiences are negatively impacting one or more areas of your life now – that’s when therapy to address trauma can be helpful. Everyone reacts to adverse life experiences differently. However, some common symptoms associated with traumatic experiences include:
● Repeated, persistent negative thoughts about yourself
● Repeated, persistent negative thoughts about the world
● Issues with memory, especially related to traumatic/distressing event(s)
● Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships in any area (family/peer/work/school)
● Lack of interest in enjoyable activities/interactions
● Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
● Irritability, anger outbursts
● Repeated, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event(s)
● Reliving the traumatic event(s) (flashbacks)
● Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the event(s), or other difficulties with sleeping
● Emotional or physical distress/reactions to the reminders of the traumatic event(s)
● Avoiding thoughts/reminders of the traumatic event(s)
● Always being “on guard” for danger or being easily startled or frightened
● Overwhelming/uncontrollable guilt or shame
● Periods of feeling disconnected from your body, or as if you’re watching yourself in a movie (dissociative events)
In the wake of COVID, all services are provided virtually: individual, couples, parenting, and group therapy to help address these concerns. We will focus on identifying the relationship between past adverse life experiences and current issues, and use this to identify goals specific to your needs. Treatment often includes psychoeducation to better understand the function of the symptoms you’re experiencing, processing past adverse life experiences, and building skills to reduce the impact those experiences have on current functioning. Additionally, we’ll focus on building resilience, which is often one of the most helpful ways to reduce the impact adverse experiences are having on our lives.
Cindy has been trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy through the EMDR Institute, Inc. (www.emdr.com). EMDR therapy enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Read more about EMDR at www.emdria.org.