Trauma Therapy and PTSD Treatment
Why are trauma therapy and PTSD treatment necessary and important?
Trauma is something that we are hearing more about these days. There are several possible reasons why this mental health issue may be getting more attention lately. It may be because our society is becoming more psychologically savvy. Or, because of the hard work that mental health advocates have done to raise awareness and reduce stigma. Possibly, because the medical community is also starting to recognize the long-term negative effects that trauma has on an individual’s physical health. Possibly, because of the collective traumas we have recently experienced and continue to experience. As a society, we are finally beginning to validate the impact of trauma on mental health.
Trauma Therapy and PTSD Treatment has Changed
Treatments for trauma have also come a long way in recent years. There has been a push for mental health treatment providers to become trauma-informed, which often completely changes the way these providers conceptualize their client’s cases. Improved treatments have been developed including evidence-based treatments (treatments that have been proven to provide results) such as EMDR and trauma-informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Providers who use these treatments can now quickly recognize when symptoms are caused by a trauma response and can utilize effective interventions to help those suffering from trauma-related symptoms.
You Don’t Have to Suffer from Trauma and PTSD
Many people have been living with the negative effects of trauma for years. They often falsely believe that things will never get better, and sometimes do not even recognize that their symptoms may be trauma responses. Some people may have tried therapy in the past, but therapy may not have been helpful if their symptoms were trauma responses and their provider was not trauma-informed. The idea of reaching out for help can be very scary and avoidance and suppression may seem much safer. The truth is that people who are trying to suppress their trauma histories are often spending a lot of time in the cycle of rumination and suppression, all while suffering numerous distressing physical and emotional symptoms.
A Skilled Trauma Therapist Can Help
If you are ready to start dealing with the past and reclaiming your future, choosing a trauma-informed provider who uses evidence-based treatments is a great place to start. Trauma-informed providers are trained to help you to set clear treatment goals, work with you at a pace that is right for you, and help you develop strategies for symptom management and safety during the course of treatment. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much better you can feel. Contact our North Riverside, IL therapy practice if you have questions or are interested in starting trauma treatment.
Types of trauma people often think of when we think about PTSD:
- Serious car accidents
- Domestic violence
- Natural Disasters
- Combat trauma
- Sexual assault/abuse
- Mugging/Physical assault
- Community Violence
- Trauma that occurs when giving birth
Often people who experience these types of acute trauma will experience disruptive symptoms. These PTSD symptoms may include: shock, anger, intense fear, avoidance of thoughts related to what happened, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, and acute disturbance in their eating habits or sleep cycle. The disturbance may occur quickly after the event, or may even come later, which can be very confusing.
Not All Trauma is “Big T” Trauma
There are other types of trauma that can cause PTSD which may be unexpected. Sometimes these issues are more pervasive and happen slowly over months or years. Individuals experiencing these types of trauma may not fully realize that they have PTSD, or they may feel that what happened to them is not “bad enough” to warrant a diagnosis of PTSD.
Well-Meaning Friends and Family Are Not Always Helpful
These types of trauma may cause a person to turn on themself, and minimize their own experiences and the negative impact these experiences have had on them, leading to increased feelings of self-loathing. When people going through these issues reach out to family or friends about the ongoing effects of their experiences, even well-meaning members of their support system may tell them they need to “let it go”, “move on” or “get over it.” People who have experienced pervasive trauma may also experience long-term physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, and gastrointestinal distress.
Some common types of subtle or chronic trauma include:
- Attachment trauma (unhealthy relationships with parents or caregivers)
- Relational trauma (unhealthy relationships with siblings, friends, or romantic partners)
- Racial trauma
- Having a chronic illness or suffering a major medical condition that changes your life Workplace trauma (being exploited by an employer or dealing with toxic office politics) Job loss
- Traumatic grief/loss
- Moral Injury
Does all trauma lead to PTSD? Do I have to have PTSD to get help?
Not every individual who experiences trauma like the types listed above will end up developing PTSD. However, it is not a weakness or a personal failure if someone develops PTSD. Sometimes the compounding effect of multiple types of trauma over time eventually takes its toll and a person may find themselves reacting in ways they were not expecting. Trauma-informed therapists know that there is no use in comparing different types of trauma, or deciding whose experience was “bad enough” and whose wasn’t. If what happened is a problem to you, and you are still experiencing symptoms related to what happened, then it is a problem. You don’t need to justify your past or your feelings. It doesn’t matter how long ago your trauma occurred, or what happened. Sometimes time heals, and sometimes it doesn’t.
“Difficult Time” vs. Trauma vs. PTSD: How do I know?
Often the tell-tale difference between having a bad experience and being able to move forward with life versus having a bad experience and developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a change in the way the individual sees themselves after a traumatic experience. One defining feature of PTSD is a change in an individual’s relationship with themselves.
“Before Trauma” and “After Trauma”: Changes
Have you ever felt like you are split into “before times” and “after”? This is normal. People who have suffered trauma often see their lives as being different before and after the traumatic events occurred. They may start to see themselves differently, and start to believe negative things about themselves such as:
“I am damaged”, “I can’t trust others”, “I am weak”, “I am a failure“, or “I cannot trust myself“.
Trauma-informed therapists find these negative ways of thinking occur especially with complex trauma. Complex trauma is what we call it when different types of trauma have occurred over the years. These traumatic experiences compound over time. People may end up truly believing negative things about themselves. Even when there is plenty of clear evidence against these negative beliefs! The objective facts may show that the affected person actually has many strengths and positive qualities. But, sometimes complex trauma gets in the way of seeing the truth.
Why Find a Trauma-Informed Therapist
This brings us to another issue that trauma-informed therapists recognize frequently in their clients: a discrepancy between a client’s observed intelligence, drive, work ethic, skills, and character versus how they are functioning in their work life, social life, and partnerships. Common trauma responses include being a workaholic, never feeling good enough, having financial problems, or having periods of functioning well but then burning out quickly. We also recognize self-destructive behaviors in clients are often the result of a trauma response. These behaviors may include substance abuse, engaging in unhealthy coping skills, and other behaviors such as dropping out of school, taking a job beneath their abilities, losing friendships and romantic relationships due to outbursts or social withdrawal, and struggling to maintain a healthy weight or healthy sleep cycle.
Trauma Therapy and PTSD Treatment that Works
Effective trauma treatment is not just about getting over traumatic experiences, although the long-term treatment goal is to help the individual move past what happened. Trauma treatment does not erase a person’s memories. Instead, trauma treatment often entails acknowledging what happened, unpacking the many layers of how the events changed their lives, and helping an individual become aware of how they feel physically and emotionally when they think about what occurred. It is through this process that the traumatic events can be truly dealt with, and the individual can let go of fear, shame, and guilt. They can start to see themselves in a positive light, reconnect with their strengths, and feel hopeful again.
Find Hope, and Yourself, Again
The eventual treatment goal is to help the person reclaim their sense of self, to be able to think about what happened without feeling the need to avoid/numb out, to not have an excessive emotional reaction when they think about what happened, and to stop being triggered by similar experiences in the present moment. This process can move quickly or slowly, depending on the needs and preferences of the individual.
Live a Life Free From the Burdens of Your Past
Finding a trauma-informed therapist can feel overwhelming or even scary. But, taking the risks involved in opening up about what happened is worth it. You can begin to get the support to process stuck emotions in a new way. With trauma therapy, people suffering after traumatic events can find their lives transformed. After trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, you may feel increased motivation, improved ability to set limits with others and engage in self-care, and decreased physiological symptoms related to stress. What’s holding you back?
Begin Trauma Therapy and PTSD Treatment in North Riverside, IL
Getting started with a trauma therapist is easy. Our North Riverside, IL counseling practice is convenient to multiple areas of Chicagoland including Riverside, La Grange Park, Brookfield, Broadview, and more. If you’re ready to begin, simply follow these steps: