PTSD, Traumas and Therapies
Many of us have to deal with a traumatic event at some point in our lives. If you have been in a car accident, had a medical emergency, experienced an assault or abuse or had to deal with the suffering of your loved one you might have been traumatized
Also, besides these so-called big T traumas , many of us experienced small t traumas which often go unnoticed. I am talking about childhood traumas that we all probably have. For adults, they might not seem very big but for a child, it could be unbearable.
Have you ever been put down by a parent, a peer or your teacher? Were you compared to your sibling? Did your parents separate when you were young? Have you ever felt scared when you were by yourself in your room? These are very common situations in our childhood that could leave you traumatized.
Children don’t have enough life experience or even mental capacity to process terrible events or deal with intense feelings. Especially it’s difficult when the source of danger is a parent whose role is to protect the child, leaving him or her scared and confused. This could leave a very deep wound.
If you’ve experienced an extremely stressful or disturbing event that’s left you feeling helpless and emotionally out of control you may have been traumatized. If you didn’t have a caring reliable adult who provided support after the event, explained what happened and calmed you down, you might still hold that unprocessed trauma.
Children can be traumatized being raised even in a very functional and loving family. Can you imagine how terrible you could feel if you didn’t pass an exam while your family put a lot of value on performance and achievements?
If I Experienced a Traumatic Event Does It Mean I am Traumatized?
Not necessarily. We react differently to the same event depending on your personality, sensitivities, resilience or belief system. Think about how different siblings react to the separation of their parents. So, trauma is not ‘what happened to you’ though, trauma is what ‘happened inside you’ as a result of the event. It’s not an event that causes trauma but your reaction to that event.
We Are A Culture Of Traumatized People
Trauma is so common in our society that we don’t even pay attention to it. It’s like living with some chronic physical pain. We can function, go to work, have a family but we are still restricted in some ways. We are very careful not to trigger the pain. Same with chronic psychological pain. We limit ourselves by avoiding events that might trigger us. For instance, you might have an underlying belief that all men would leave you because your father left when you were young. Or you might hesitate for years to start a business because your first-generation immigrant parents worked hard and put a lot of value on work stability and a steady income.
Fears, negative self-talk, sense of low self-worth, feelings of guilt and shame are the common issues people are coming for counselling. As humans, we are very resilient. Most of us function well, we start families, build careers, meet with friends. But often we feel empty, dissatisfied with life or angry for no reason.
If upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety just won’t go away or you feel restricted in some ways you need to pay attention to those feelings. If you feel hurt, angry, upset – it’s a clue to your past. When you heal yourself you will heal your relationships with others. If you feel you are restricted in some ways, if you feel stuck, you need to do some healing.
How to heal past traumas?
There are several therapy approaches that can help you to heal past traumas. One of the therapists I am using successfully is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) Therapy. Here is an introduction to this approach
The issues that can be resolved during counselling therapy
- Get relief from worries and anxiety. You will stop those ruminating destructive thoughts and calm your mind
- Feel more relaxed, will be able to sleep better and have more energy during the day
- Feel more positive towards yourself, reduce self-doubts and unhealthy guilt and shame
- Get more comfortable in your own skin. You will increase your feelings of self-worth and improve self-esteem
- The flashbacks of your past traumas won’t be haunting your present
- Feel more joy and be able to laugh more and express yourself more authentically
- Have a better and deeper connection in your relationships. You will be able to express your needs better and get heard