Counseling for Trauma
Many people act in ways that seem in conflict with their values and how they hope to treat themselves or show up for what and who they care about. This incongruence can be painfully confusing and self defeating especially when the link between today’s reactivity and the impact of past traumas hasn’t been acknowledged yet.
Research tells us that it’s not the event itself but how the person’s nervous system reorganizes itself to cope with intense painful experiences or chronic stress, that would rather decide if the event(s) would be stored as traumatic. Different biopsychosocial factors contribute to whether or not an experience is encoded as a traumatic memory.
Experiences that can leave powerful imprints that shape patterns of relational struggles and ways of relating to the world, include and are not limited to:
Chronic distress while living with family of origin
Traumatic loss of loved ones
Chronic exposure to discriminatory behaviors and structural discrimination
Chronic exposure to microaggressions
Violent criminal acts
Loss of control associated with medical traumas
Life altering medical conditions
Exposure to the violence of war
Multigenerational legacies of traumas
Many tough events can be organically processed so that the brain can later consider them as learning experiences. Traumatic memories take different paths and a different set of skills and therapeutic experiences are required so they can be reprocessed and related to in adaptive and life affirming ways.
The ways trauma memories show up can be subtle and implicit that the person won’t realize that the intense reactivity or the loss of motivation taking place in the moment is one of the ways a past traumatic memory is “speaking up” and asking for deep and dignified healing.
The impacts of traumatic experiences can be extremely confusing to individuals experiencing them and to people around them, especially if there is a well intentioned assumption that “that was a while ago, you should be over it”.
Unprocessed trauma can block real connection and contentment. It’s painful to live with intense anxiety, anger outbursts, fear and persistent depression that seem from a person’s perspective as “out of proportion” , “out of nowhere” or irrelevant to how loving and kind that individual is when not triggered by a traumatic memory.
It can be easy to assume “something is wrong with me” until a therapeutic experience gently invites the brain and body to share what they have been holding on to and why.
Trauma research and clinical observations show that intentionality and presence of reliable resources are major factors to support post traumatic growth and resilience no matter for how long the stress has been physiologically and psychologically stored in the system.
It’s common to experience shame and guilt for being stuck in patterns that stand in the way of our goals or for being truly present for what and who we care about. Repeated failed attempts to manage distress can lead to less hope and more shame that can be sensed while thinking “I tried everything and nothing helped”.
Different disciplines and therapeutic approaches including and not limited to: interpersonal neurobiology, memory reconsolidation, EMDR and internal family systems; highlight the inevitable movement of humans towards health when obstacles are removed and certain therapeutic components are in place.
If you are interested in learning more about how clinical counseling can help, you are welcome to schedule an initial consultation.
Ecker B., Ticic, R.,&Hulley, L.. (2012). Unlocking the Emotional Brain: Eliminating symptoms at their roots using memory reconsolidation. Routledge
Siegal, D. J. (2012). Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the mind. Norton
Fisher, J. (2021). Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma. Pesi
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