I would say the most common manifestation of trauma I see in my practice is women, sometimes men, in their late 20's to early 40's who have experienced toxic relationship dynamics or abuse (often sexual abuse but not always) as a child and never told anyone or told one someone who did nothing. Now as an adult they come in saying something like; "what is wrong with me, this is all in the past, why is it coming up now and messing with my life?" The resurfacing of old trauma is often triggered by a current life circumstance such as children approaching the age of when abuse began for the client or a major life transition.
There is a close second as the most common manifestation of trauma I see in my practice. This would be women, sometimes men, who are having an awakening experience to realize they are in a toxic relationship or marriage. They are experience psychological abuse and have lost all sense of self and identity and feel like an empty shell of a person who now walks around vacant of their true self.
In both of these cases I see a fair to extreme degree of dissociation, shame, and numbing as well as dysregulation of emotions and thoughts. Often times addictions are involved as well. If addictions are severe or not in remission, I typically refer to colleagues who are LCDC credentialed as well as trauma informed, trained and experienced.
Childhood trauma is called remote because it is in the past by several to many years. It is also typically chronic and complex, meaning it occurred over a span of time rather than one time and it involved more than one type of trauma, such as a combination of sexual and psychological trauma. I also serve victims of remote and current crime trauma such as rape victims or victims of the commercial sex industry and human sex trafficking. (However there are many non profit programs serving these trauma victims so I see fewer of these individuals). Several of my clients are also dealing with traumatic grief such as loss of a loved one as a result of things like crime, disaster or traumatic illness.
Since I work exclusively with interpersonal trauma, I will share my working definition of trauma with that perspective in mind. I once heard Trauma defined as anything less than nurturing. I love the generosity of and compassion in this definition. I think for my work a more specific definition which also holds the qualities of generosity and compassion would be this: Interpersonal trauma is pain and/or harm (emotional, psychological, relational, physical, sexual, spiritual, financial, manipulation etc.) inflicted on a person by a person (can be self-inflicted pain), and/or the witness of such inflicted pain and/or harm, and/or suffering some form of a result of the pain and/or harm inflicted on another. The pain and/or harm may be intentional, accidental, or even oblivious. This also includes pain connected to traumatic loss or grief, traumatic illness, horrific news about a loved one, which involves human relationships (and sometimes a pet). The experience of shame is a traumatic emotion and will cause a person to experience being in a trauma exposed state as well. Pain is pain, harm is harm.
The experience of trauma creates brain chemistry changes and as a trauma survivor, often sets you in a state of high alert. You may experience that your senses, such as hearing are exquisitely sensitive. You may re-experience the trauma in the form of dreams or flashbacks. You may be overcome with anxiety, fear, emotional flooding, recycling thoughts, spiraling thoughts and emotions into disastrous places. You may experience feeling frozen, blank, depressed, tired, sensitive, shaky, hopeless, helpless, split, afraid, confused, empty, lost, or not present in yourself. Perhaps you feel like part of you is missing or a sense of lost time or memories. You may even find yourself in places for which you do not recall how you got there. As a trauma survivor you likely experience a myriad of symptoms related to the trauma that you may not even know are related to the trauma. Furthermore, you often do not know help is available for what you are experiencing. You feel alone, broken, defective, odd, . . . ., when in fact you are having a normal human response to an experience a human is not supposed to have had. Volumes could be written about this. The bottom line is, if you have experienced any form of trauma at any point in your life, there is help.
I use a variety of interventions including EMDR, art, writing, mindfulness, relaxation, breath work, Yoga, grounding processes, Daring Way™ material focusing on shame resilience, traditional talk therapy, narrative therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, art, and visual processes as well as somatic informed process and more. If you are at a point where you feel you are overwhelmed and the daily tasks of living are going un-met, it is an option to schedule Dig Deep counseling sessions. These are 4 hour to full day counseling sessions, like a mini therapy retreat. This requires a bit more planning to schedule and requires prepayment in full prior to the Dig Deep session.
I firmly believe that the space is part of the healing process as well, so I have worked hard to curate a space that cultivates a sense of calm, healing, and nurturing. My hope is that you feel immediately welcome and relaxed as you enter the space and breathe a sigh of relief when you enter each time.
I have over 24 years of experience and training as a master degreed Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving those exposed to trauma, including training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Yoga for Trauma, Art processes, Attachment theory, Trauma Therapy, Family Systems and Emotionally Focused Therapy. Give me a call or email me, if you would like to move toward healing and living a life no longer chained to the trauma.