Traumatic experiences can come in many different shapes and sizes. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a medical diagnosis, established in 1980, defining symptoms that last at least a month after experiencing a major trauma. These symptoms may include remembering or reliving a traumatic experience when you do not choose to, heightened or intensified emotions, feeling numb (emotionally and/or cognitively) and withdrawn, avoidance of thoughts, people, locations, events, or feelings, having awful nightmares, daydreaming about the traumatic event, and experiencing types of anxiety that interfere with daily life. For a complete list of diagnostic criteria for PTSD, see www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/dsm5_criteria_ptsd.asp.
When we store memories under conditions of intense trauma, they may be fragmented and incomplete and yet somehow we make decisions about what that experience means about us… in terms of control (I have no control, I am powerless), safety (I am unsafe, can’t protect myself), or responsibility (I am bad, shameful). And those decisions often follow us around, as assumptions that then guide our perceptions of experiences for years post-trauma.
Whether you have survived a single traumatic incident, such as a car accident, been a victim of a violent crime or a natural disaster, or witnessed a crime, whether you have been a survivor of multiple major traumas, such as experiencing military combat, domestic violence, child abuse, or taking care of a catastrophically ill child, or you have experienced an accumulation of lower intensity traumas, like bullying or prolonged verbal abuse, there are therapies that can help tremendously.
Cognitive-behavioral and Emotion-focused therapies are quite useful in relieving some symptoms, and EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is currently the most widely-accepted specific modality for use in trauma work, see www.emdria.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=3.
We invite you to call us at 714-432-9856 today to set up an appointment so you can start to feel better!