When you experience a traumatic event, it can change your life. Our brains are altered as a result of trauma, becoming overactive and hyper-alert in an effort to keep us safe. Trauma also lives in our bodies, affecting the way our nervous system functions. After a traumatic event you may feel more fearful and anxious, and you may worry that you will never feel truly calm again. You may feel that life will never return to normal.
Often, people who have experienced trauma feel afraid to take any risks or try something new. Some feel afraid of life itself. A common reaction is to shut down and try to pretend the event never happened or that it did not affect us. We may feel that we deserved it or that it is our problem alone and shun others’ help.
Some common reactions to trauma are:
A heightened alertness or vigilance
Anxiety or panic attacks
Withdrawal from life events
How Trauma is Treated in Therapy
It can be very scary to think about coming to therapy to talk about a traumatic event. Having to recount a traumatic event has been shown to be ineffective - and in some cases, can be retraumatizing. Instead, therapy starts with building a foundation of support, self-regulation, and safety.
Therapy can help build upon your strengths and your resilience (you are more resilient than you think). This helps manage your natural fight, flight, or freeze reactions and can help dissipate some of the hyper-arousal you may be feeling. Once this foundation has been built, it may or may not be helpful to explore the traumatic event in greater detail as you work to integrate the traumatic event into your life.
Therapists Specializing in Trauma: