I focus a large part of what I do on treating clients who have experienced trauma. Whether you’re suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Developmental / Relational Trauma, also known as Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), I can help you to re-build your life.
There are a number of experiences which can lead to trauma including:
* Witnessing parents or family members arguing or physically fighting
* Seeing someone being harmed physically, sexually or emotionally
* Growing up with an alcoholic or narcissistic parent
* Being subjected to verbal or emotional abuse
* Physical or emotional abandonment or even just the threat of abandonment
* Physical abuse
* Sexual abuse
* Suffering loss through death, relocation, divorce, friendships breaking down or physical health
* Accident or natural disaster
* Medical treatment that was traumatic
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD is a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress which occurs as a result of injury or severe psychological shock. There’s no time limit on distress and some people don’t develop symptoms until many years after the event. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk wrote a very important book called, “The Body Keeps the Score”. This means that the traumatized person’s body remembers what happened to it during the event/s and can get easily triggered into a state of fear, shame, overwhelm, etc. years later even though there is nothing going on in the current state that truly warrants such a response.
What are the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
* Vivid flashbacks
* Intrusive thoughts and images
* Feeling distressed when exposed to real or symbolic reminders of the trauma
* Nightmares and having difficulty sleeping
* Physical sensations including pain, sweating, nausea and trembling
* Being easily upset or angry
* Extreme alertness
* Being irritable or aggressive
What is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
CPTSD often starts out as Developmental Trauma and is the result of trauma we have experienced in our childhood. Breaches to the secure bond we’re supposed to have with a parent or caregiver causes us to have an insecure attachment with those around us and will frequently affect us well into adulthood. CPTSD is the result of being exposed to and experiencing traumatizing events on an ongoing basis. These events may be “big T” trauma such as ongoing sexual or physical abuse or more often than not “small t” traumas such as being persistently shamed, scared, and going un-noticed. This is called relational trauma which according to Pia Mellody is defined as anything less than nurturing by primary caregivers. These children lived in an internal world of terror, fear and disorganization. PTSD can occur because of experiences that a person has outside of their attachment (war, accidents, abuse by a stranger, etc.). CPTSD occurs because of experiences (or lack of experiences such as being consistently ignored) within their attachment system.
Clients with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffer long-term symptoms including:
* Persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive or inhibited anger
* Affect dysregulation – chronically overwhelmed with emotion or emotionally “flat” where one doesn’t feel anything
* Issues around attention and concentration
* Forgetting traumatic events, reliving traumatic events or having episodes where one feels detached from their mental processes or body (dissociation)
* Feeling helpless, shame, guilt, stigma and different from everybody else
* Deep sense of self loathing
* Attributing total power to the perpetrator, becoming preoccupied with the relationship with the perpetrator or becoming absorbed with seeking revenge
* Being isolated, not trusting others and continually looking for someone to ‘rescue’ them
* Feeling hopelessness and despair
How can I help you?
There are three phases in good trauma work.
* Processing of the Traumatic Experiences
* Reconnection and Reintegration with the World
Having been trained by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and Pia Mellody, two of the leaders at the forefront of PTSD and CPTSD treatment, I have a deep understanding of the intricacies affecting these populations. I am also trained in EMDR which is a scientifically based, highly effective modality of treatment for PTSD and CPTSD. Treatment involves utilizing EMDR, working with different parts (which in simple terms refers to the different neural networks in our brain) and using many different methods to help clients stabilize and feel safe within themselves. This comprehensive approach to treating trauma allows clients to heal from their wounds and return (or perhaps go for the first time) to a place of healthy, functional and meaningful living, both as an individual and within relationships.
For more information about post traumatic stress, the symptoms and the treatments available, please feel free to contact me so that we can discuss your situation.