Has A Traumatic Experience Impacted Your Ability To Feel And Function Normally?
Were you involved in a situation where there was a real or perceived threat of extreme danger to you or someone close to you? Since the traumatic event or series of events, have you experienced obsessive thoughts about the event, found yourself avoiding people or situations that you associate with the event or feel an overwhelming sense of dread? Are you suddenly struggling with relationships, work, or school? Do you find it difficult to concentrate and complete tasks? Have you been easily triggered, overwhelmed by emotions or felt extremely agitated? Alternatively, have you felt detached, isolated or numb? Or, have you felt like you’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster, vacillating between feeling hyper-aroused and totally disconnected? Do you wonder when and if you will stop feeling so anxious and afraid and begin feel like your old self again?
Trauma can have a grave and significant impact on the way you think, feel and behave. Traumatic events can consume your thoughts, elicit heightened anxiety and even cause panic attacks. Trauma can affect how you sleep, eat and relate with others. It can blur your focus, cause you to avoid people and places, and make you feel like you’re in a cage. Extreme trauma can lead to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which may cause you to be completely consumed by thoughts and feelings associated with the traumatic event and/or include flashbacks. You may be constantly feeling like something is wrong with you, and experience physical responses, such as a racing heart, by things that didn’t affect you before the traumatic event.
Trauma Experiences Are Common
Just about everyone has or will experience some level of trauma at some point in their lives. For most people, trauma is a stressful and overwhelming experience, although the trauma experience can be highly individualized and is influenced by a person’s level of resilience, the strength of their support system, and by how victimized they felt or feel by the traumatic event. In addition, one may easily process an event that significantly affects someone else.
Trauma can be created in a single event or over a series of events, and clinical statistics report that about 30-50 percent of the population has experienced a trauma that could lead to PTSD. Getting help to process a trauma becomes critical if it’s affecting your ability to function well in all areas or your life or if it’s impacting your ability to engage in specific activities that are a necessary part of your life.
Therapy Can Help You Heal From A Trauma
Therapy can be a highly effective way to recover from trauma. How long it will take, however, varies greatly. It depends on a number of variables, for example, if you experienced a single incident trauma or if the trauma occurred over time. It can also depend on your resiliency, support system and how soon after the event intervention occurs.
Because trauma manifests itself physically, treating trauma and PTSD requires more than just a cognitive, talk therapy approach. Many people become “stuck” in their trauma and a fight or flight response – it’s like being in a car and pushing on the gas peddle and the break simultaneously. PTSD symptoms will not go away without proper treatment, and, if a trauma goes untreated, it can have a lasting impact. You may continue to experience physical triggers as your body keeps trying to finish processing the trauma. Symptoms can become compounded and lead to increased and abnormal fears, social isolation, and risky behaviors.
Using specific modalities, your BPS therapist will help you unwind, settle and stabilize your nervous system. Once your nervous system has stabilized, your therapist will use various techniques to help you “unpack” the trauma and take it to completion. With slow and guided support, you can become unstuck, finish processing your trauma, and let go of the symptoms created by it. You can also learn mindfulness and calming techniques, which will benefit you throughout life.
While it may take time to fully process your trauma, it is possible to mitigate your symptoms and get back to an emotional, mental, and physical place that feels more manageable. You can dial down the intensity of your experience and learn how to manage anxiety and stress in healthier ways. With the proper help and support, change can happen and you can feel better.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I think that therapy could be helpful, but I’m concerned about costs.
This is your life and wellbeing. Addressing your trauma or PTSD now can prevent a host of problems from occurring. Investing in your self may not only address your symptoms, but also prevent you from developing unhealthy coping mechanisms or self-medicating. Untreated trauma or PTSD can also wreak havoc on your nervous system and lead to so much stress that you may struggle to function.
Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with young adults and trauma issues or with whom they couldn’t relate – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct an initial assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced to treat young adults suffering from trauma or PTSD and whose personality is a good match for you. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to yourself may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine feeling and functioning better on a regular basis and ask yourself what that’s worth.
If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find other lower cost resources in the community.
I am feeling hopeless. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I don’t think that anything – even therapy – can help me.
Even though it may not feel like it now, experience shows us that healing from trauma or PTSD is entirely possible. What’s important, however, is that you work with a therapist who is specifically trained to treat trauma and trauma-related issues. You can talk with your BPS therapist about what you’ve tried in the past and what didn’t work. You and your therapist can then collaborate and develop new and more effective strategies that meet your specific needs and personality. It’s important that you don’t give up. With the right therapist and approach, it is possible to process your trauma and feel better.
I’m afraid that therapy will make me feel worse.
This is a very common and understandable fear. What’s important for you to understand, however, is that you are in control. Your BPS therapist will meet you where you are emotionally and set a pace that feels comfortable for you. Trauma therapy is sequenced, structured, and highly individualized. And, your therapist will not impact the trauma until trust is established and both you and your therapist agree that you are ready to handle the memories.
We encourage you to schedule an initial assessment with Dr. Jan Hittelman. Jan will work with you to determine what your specific issues are and ensure a good match between you and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you and with a therapist who has expertise working with young adults with trauma or PTSD issues.
BPS therapist David Robbins, LPC helped create the content for this page. David is a licensed professional counselor and has advanced clinical training in modalities that can be used to treat trauma and PTSD. Personally, David had experienced and fully recovered from PTSD. He has been working with young adults on trauma and PTSD issues since 2005.