Trauma occurs when we experience or witness a life threatening event or loss, or something that is so devastating, stressful, and overwhelming to us that it affects our normal ability to cope. Repeated exposure to trauma from experiences such as abuse is called complex trauma.
Our body and brain stores memories and responds to traumatic events and experiences which result in both physical and mental reactions. Our thoughts, feelings and behaviors are affected and may change when we are traumatized. Sometimes a person’s behavior will change significantly and sometimes the change is emotional instead of behavioral. A person may develop an addiction, self destructive behaviors such as cutting, or withdraw from others and avoid relationships.
Trauma affects all five senses – hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. Our brain will develop triggers such as seeing a stop sign will remind you of the horrific car accident you were in, or smelling cologne will remind you of the abuse you suffered.
Healing from Trauma and experiencing resolution of the symptoms can only take place when you feel safe and secure. This may happen naturally with the help of loved ones, or you may need to seek counseling to help you address the symptoms and work through the painful thoughts and emotions resulting from the trauma(s) you experienced. If you are feeling stuck and experiencing the following symptoms, please seek professional counseling to help you work through the issues emotionally, mentally, behaviorally, and physically.
There is Hope for Healing that produces Harmony through counseling.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) for treating symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
*DSM-IV Criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
A. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present:
(2) the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Note: In children, this may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior.
B. The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in one (or more) of the following ways:
(1) recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: In young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed.
(2) recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content.
(3) acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur upon awakening or when intoxicated). Note: In young children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur.
(4) intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
(5) physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
(1) efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma
(2) efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
(3) inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
(4) markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
(5) feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
(6) restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
(7) sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)
(1) difficulty falling or staying asleep
(2) irritability or outbursts of anger
(3) difficulty concentrating
(5) exaggerated startle response
E. Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than one month.
F. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than 3 months
Chronic: if duration of symptoms is 3 months or more
With Delayed Onset: if onset of symptoms is at least 6 months after the stressor
*The American Psychological Association – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR)