Is Unresolved Trauma Keeping You Stuck In The Same Story?
Are you unable to resolve the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by yourself? Does it feel like a part of you is stuck in the past, hindering your ability to move forward? Do you wish you could alleviate your physical and emotional symptoms once and for all to improve your quality of life?
Although you’re able to function well most of the time, when it comes to dealing with stressful situations, your default response may be to become angry or anxious. These unhealthy ways of handling stress make you incapable of feeling grounded or staying in the present moment. Instead, you’re preoccupied by intrusive thoughts that cause intense waves of anxiety or depression.
Perhaps when you’re unexpectedly triggered by something, like a sight, sound, or smell, you’re unable to escape the sense that you are reliving a traumatic experience. As a feeling of helplessness descends upon you, you experience the fight, flight, or freeze response that may culminate in hypervigilance, flashbacks, or panic attacks.
Your Relationships Might Have Been Negatively Impacted By Trauma
If you have suffered trauma, it might make it more difficult for you to maintain a sense of trust or safety with others. Perhaps you consider yourself to be a broken person who has never been good in relationships. Unfortunately, your negative mindset works as a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading you to self-isolate from those you love.
The biggest problem with unresolved trauma is that you carry it with you into every facet of life. If left untreated, it can negatively affect not only your relationships but also your physical and mental health.
The good news is therapy can help you learn effective techniques to manage the symptoms of PTSD so that you are no longer negatively affected by trauma.
We Commonly Overlook Or Downplay PTSD
Although most of us have experienced different levels of trauma in our lives, not everyone will go on to develop PTSD. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “an estimated 3.6 percent of U.S. adults had PTSD in the past year.” And due to its association with war veterans, those of who do suffer from PTSD may be unaware that we are experiencing its symptoms. We often think that only those exposed to combat or a major catastrophe will go on to have PTSD.
Our Childhood Experiences May Cause PTSD Later In Life
Oftentimes the narratives we tell ourselves as adults—like something is inherently wrong with us—stem from having verbally, psychologically, or emotionally abusive parents or suffering neglect as a child. The effects of physical, sexual, and mental abuse—or emotional neglect as a child—may have taught us to compartmentalize how we feel or that sharing our emotions with others is inappropriate. Although we may not realize that what we experienced in childhood was trauma, we suffer the repercussions nevertheless.
When outwardly we lead a stable life and have no reason to complain, we might try to downplay our symptoms rather than address how unresolved trauma affects our relationships and daily experiences. We often wonder if we’ll ever feel normal again, which leads to a sense of confusion and shame. Moreover, those around us may expect us to get over our traumatic experience and move on with life. However, PTSD symptoms do not lessen over time—we won’t simply get better without help from a professional counselor.
Fortunately, PTSD therapy allows you to address the underlying causes of trauma. By understanding how past experiences affect you presently, counseling will instill hope that you can move beyond PTSD.
PTSD Therapy Can Help You Manage The Symptoms Of Trauma
When trauma causes PTSD, it’s understandable that you may try to numb or distract yourself rather than confront the root cause. Perhaps you don’t realize how trauma continues to impact you on a physical and emotional level or—in an effort to downplay its effects—you deny what you’re experiencing.
Therapy allows you to manage your PTSD symptoms as well as explore its root cause in a safe and non-threatening environment. Your therapist will foster trust and a sense of safety by patiently helping you unpack what stands in the way of honestly expressing yourself. Further, they will help you realize that when you lean into emotions you’ve avoided in the past, it offers a richer emotional experience that can improve your relationship with your partner and others.
What To Expect In PTSD Therapy Sessions
At your initial session, your therapist will ask you about what you’ve been experiencing, assessing the frequency and intensity of your PTSD symptoms. By creating a treatment plan tailored to your needs, you and your counselor will forge a therapeutic alliance that will identify specific techniques for addressing PTSD.
Once you feel more grounded after learning to manage surface-level symptoms, we will evaluate how you feel about exploring the root causes of your trauma. If you wish to look deeper, attachment therapy explores the underlying causes of trauma through the lens of family history. By identifying the models you were given as a child that inform your thoughts and feelings presently, you will gain insight into the trauma you experienced. And once you understand the root causes of PTSD, the underlying trauma will start to lose its power over you.
The Modalities We Use In PTSD Counseling
In addition to attachment-based modalities, we utilize Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), and somatic therapy to help you manage the symptoms of PTSD as well as offer you healthier ways to respond and react to stressful situations.
CBT can help you break out of the negative narrative you have written for yourself by bringing awareness to the thoughts that undermine your sense of well-being. By teaching you to notice when you have unhelpful thoughts and how to change them, you can gain control of your mood and build self-esteem. DBT utilizes somatic practices like mindfulness, deep breathing, and guided meditation to help you stay grounded in your body. Additionally, DBT teaches distress tolerance and emotional regulation techniques that will help further alleviate the symptoms of PTSD.
Therapy offers you tangible ways to deal with PTSD. And, if you wish, you can work through the trauma that underlies your PTSD symptoms. With the help and support therapy offers, you can live a full, happy life in which your symptoms become much less frequent and intense. With hope restored, you will think and feel differently.
But You May Wonder Whether PTSD Therapy Is Right For You…
Will I have to talk about my trauma?
We understand that in some instances, talking about the root cause of trauma may be retraumatizing. You will never be forced to talk about your experience unless you want to and think it would be helpful to do so. However, if revisiting what happened won’t be helpful for you, we will help you manage your symptoms of PTSD in therapy sessions and leave it at that.
How soon will PTSD therapy help me feel better?
You may be wondering how quickly you will improve after undergoing treatment for PTSD. Although everyone is unique and starts therapy at a different place emotionally, the good news is that you can expect to undergo incremental changes from the moment you begin PTSD counseling. And when you commit to working with a therapist who will provide you with psychoeducation and helpful techniques to deal with your PTSD along the way, full recovery is possible.
How do I know I have PTSD? The trauma I experienced wasn’t that bad.
It’s common for many of us to downplay our experiences, not appreciating the indelible mark trauma has left on us. However, if you experience physical symptoms—such as flashbacks or intrusive thoughts—or still feel the emotional after-effects of trauma, it’s worth getting help. You don’t have to check any particular boxes to receive treatment—even if you think what you’re dealing with doesn’t warrant counseling for PTSD, you deserve to feel better.
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