Have you experienced or witnessed a horrifying or tragic event that you can’t seem to get out of your head? Have you experienced the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one or pet? Was your loved one’s death painful or difficult, and you can’t see anything about your loved one but that horrible death? Do you try to fight off all possibilities of a with a potentially re-traumatizing occurrence, or do you try to flee to avoid re-experiencing your trauma? Are you constantly “on-guard”, or do you feel frozen in place when something reminds you of your trauma? Are you turning to drugs or alcohol to numb your pain? Are you suffering from nightmares, intrusive thoughts and images or panic attacks that prevent you from sleeping or functioning in your daily life? Are you quick to become angry with loved ones?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you know how devastating the impact of trauma can be. Unresolved trauma — whether from abuse, witnessing or being a victim of violence, grieving a sudden or painful death, being in a car accident, or a myriad of other difficult events — can affect every aspect of your life: physically, socially, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. For example, intrusive thoughts and images can impact your sleep, eating and overall health. The body’s flight, fight or freeze response to unresolved trauma may be impacting your social and emotional life. You may have developed recurring, negative beliefs such as “I am not safe”, “I do not deserve love”, “The world is a terrifying place”, “God cannot help me”, or “I deserved to be hurt.” Thoughts like this impact your sense of self, worldview and spirituality.
There is hope, and I can help you heal from your trauma.
Through a combination of EMDR, mindfulness and body-centered practices and cognitive therapy, I have had remarkable success in guiding my clients to heal from trauma.
What is EMDR?
You may have heard of EMDR, and wondered what it is. EMDR (which stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) was developed by a psychologist after years of scientific study. EMDR uses “bilateral stimulation” — whether in the form of eye movements, tapping, sound or other forms – to release traumatic material from the brain in a way that made the material workable. EMDR helps release traumatic images, transforming them into memories that are no longer intrusive. memories, and also transforms negative beliefs into positive, useful ones. Therapists need to be trained to practice EMDR, and follow a standardized protocol in EMDR work with clients. I have received advanced training in EMDR, and am always amazed at how effective it is in healing trauma in the safe, non-judgmental environment of my practice.
How does mindfulness help heal trauma?
I am a certified mindfulness meditation instructor, and have found that Mindfulness meditation and mindfulness-based psychotherapy can be powerful tools in healing trauma. Mindfulness meditation helps free people from the seeming power and “truth” of their thoughts, helping them stay in the present, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness meditation helps a person focus on the present moment and notice where thoughts and emotions are felt in the body. This experience can help the traumatized person feel grounded, and is especially effective in letting go of racing thoughts and images about the past and future.
But you may still be afraid to open the “can of worms” that is your trauma…isn’t it better to just avoid anything that reminds me of my trauma?
My guess is that you have been trying to avoid thinking about what you experienced. This is understandable, but as you’ve probably found out by now, trying to avoid your trauma just doesn’t work, and leads to more difficulties. Maybe you have been drinking more, or lashing out at loved ones. You might be experiencing headaches or stomach aches. These “shortcuts” just don’t work. The effects of trauma don’t just magically disappear.
Together, we will create a space of safety for you to work through your trauma in a non-threatening way. I will follow your lead and not push you into anything until you are ready.
I have experienced or witnessed some difficult things, but don’t think I have PTSD. Can trauma therapy still help me?
Trauma does not have to rise to the level of PTSD to interfere with your life. We all experience difficult life challenges that can have the same effects as full-blown PTSD, just not as severe. Trauma therapy can definitely help with the less severe traumas and challenges of life that are causing you anxiety or other difficulties.
I’ve heard that “time heals all wounds.” So why do I need trauma counseling?
Time alone does not heal trauma. The effects of trauma stay in our brain, thoughts and body until they are processed. In fact, over time, traumas that we have been able to suppress earlier in life are likely to come to the surface and no longer able to be suppressed. Trauma counseling can actually accelerate the healing process. As one client grieving the traumatic death of her husband noted, “I still miss him, and still have images of him being in the ICU on life support, but those images are no longer intrusive and disturbing. They are now just memories, and the negative beliefs about myself and the world are gone. I know that my husband’s death was not my fault and I am OK.”
You do not have to live with the effects of your trauma or other difficulties in life. In our sessions together, we will work to release your trauma safely and at your own pace. You can remember what happened to you without despair, and can come to a place of peace.