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Trauma & PTSD

The heart of trauma counseling practice is helping  individuals, couples and groups understand the nature of  trauma— the root of your traumatic wound and how that is playing out in your life–emotionally, physically and spiritually.  Trauma isn’t anything people welcome neither should happen, but healing and recovery is not only possible, but can leave you in a more resilient state.

Trauma can happen to anybody. We know today that trauma isn’t defined by the event but by the impact on the individual. Trauma can occur from any type of distressing event such as the death of a loved one, sexual assault, divorce, or war. However, there is a more subtle type of trauma: developmental trauma (also called Complex PTSD). Complex trauma is an accumulation of trauma within the context of family and other intimate relationships that happen repetitively over time. Some examples are: family dysfunction, neglect, abandonment, child abuse, boundaries issues,  prolonged stress such as feeling alone, embarrassed, rejected, scared, insecure, inadequate, unlovable, powerless and hopeless for long periods of time in life). Complex trauma can be harder to identify, but both can affect you in similar ways.

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How do you know if you suffer from PTSD?

Most people don’t even think/know they have gone through trauma. The reality is that life isn’t perfect or easy. All of us go through some sort of trauma in our lives. To make it even more difficult, sometimes, trauma isn’t even caused by the event, but by the lack or something.

Nevertheless, PTSD is actually one of the top reasons people seek out therapy. Some people know it and some people don’t. They come through the doors with typical symptoms such as depression, anxiety, relationships issues, addictions etc. However, underlying to many of those, is complex PTSD. The good news is that, whether a single event or a long-term stressor has impacted your life, PTSD treatment is known to  be effective.

If  you experience one or more of the issues below, regardless if you know if you have been through trauma or not, you will benefit from psychological help.

  • Feeling a lack of self-worth
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Shock, denial, and confusion
  • Detachment and numbing
  • Flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive memories of the traumatic event.
  • Full panic attacks
  • Eating disorders
  • Memory issues
  • Inability to complete normal daily functions
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Lack of energy
  • Tense muscles
  • Physical aches and pains (migraines, IBS, back pain, digestive problems…)

What are the effects of trauma?

Trauma damages your emotional and mental well-being, causing you to feel hurt while physically changing your brain. Areas of your brain that previously worked in one way now have been altered to work differently as a result of physically and emotionally responding to the trauma.

If you have been through traumatic events in your life (one-time event or developmentally), you need to get help. Our counselors with experience in treating trauma can help you process it, so your brain and nervous system can function in a healthy way again.

Situations that confront you with great inner pain can set off a process of enormous positive inner growth and healing. However, the journey can be difficult and can’t be done own your own.  But help is available.

How does PTSD treatment work?

Currently all sessions are held online due to COVID-19.

The effects of trauma are reflected in feelings, thinking patterns and behaviors. So, an effective trauma treatment, will address the 3 aspects. The feelings tend to be storage in the limbic part of the brain, which doesn’t have historical memory. Therefore, bottom up or so-called body-oriented techniques work better to process the trauma. “The body keeps the score”, Peter Levine.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Brain Spotting, Somatic Interventions, Art and Sand Tray Therapy, Internal Family Systems, AEDP.

The thoughts are available to be rewired and therefore, behaviors changed only and after the feelings are held and processed. Then other approaches such as mindfulness stress reduction, cognitive behavioral therapy, Dialectical behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

“If you see the fingerprints you might recognize the finger.”  Terry Real

Will I Have To Relive My Trauma In Sessions In Order To Heal?

Some people need to revisit the traumatic event in order to heal, which can involve retelling the story and reprocessing it in new ways. However, that isn’t always the case.

The good news is that our bodies know how to heal from trauma and can release the stress without having to talk about it. This can look many different ways. Sometimes, all it takes is feeling safe and accepted in a relationship. Other times, healing may come from the process of bringing awareness to habitual thoughts or emotions that are keeping you stuck. Every person is different, and we will work with you and your particular case.

At DC VA Counseling, we are trained in various modalities and work in conjunction if needed, to offer you what you need.

Next Steps:

Interested in PTSD treatment and think we might be a good fit? Simply contact us for a free consultation at isabelkirk@gmail.com or 703-231-7991. Offering online counseling and in person in VA.