Trauma: Trauma and It’s Many Faces

I receive many questions from prospective clients about trauma.  Many times, these clients wonder if they have trauma, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – but are wondering if they indeed would have such a diagnosis because they haven’t “served in combat”.  The term ‘PTSD’ is more prevalent in our modern culture than ever before- with PSA announcements, commercials for treatment and even in pop culture – which can lead to more confusion about the affliction.

In my experience in working with clients of all walks of life, I can say that trauma is an interesting, multi-faceted concept.  Many of us come to understand the commonly-held notion of trauma, which I like to describe as “Big- T Trauma”:  occurs often when we are subjected to a severe, point-in-time traumatic event – this could be combat, but this also could be a car accident, being a victim of a sexual assault, receiving a diagnosis of a life-changing illness, grief or loss, to name a few.  

In addition, “Little – t trauma” can be characterized as ongoing traumas that occur in our lives:  domestic violence, emotional or psychological abuse, a chronic and life-long illness.  Often, we may be able to check off something in both of these categories.  

Sometimes, we can’t quite put our finger on the source or root cause of our unease, but we know something is ‘off’.  I want to commend you for seeking some help in therapy to begin your healing journey!

The next question I get from clients, once they do determine that trauma is causing their suffering, is:  Now What?  Where do I go from here?

The EMDR Therapist Network has some useful self-assessment questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are you losing productivity at home or at work because of symptoms of anxiety?
  2. Are you still feeling depressed or lonely, despite the practice of positive thinking? Are you angry all the time, and don’t know why?
  3. Are you frustrated that the “real you” is buried by hair-trigger, out of control emotions?
  4. Have phobias limited your life, despite your best efforts to overcome them?
  5. Have you been in therapy “forever,” wrestling with the same old problems?
  6. Have you tried cognitive therapies only to find your emotions still ruling your life?
  7. Do you want to calm the chaos of self-defeating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors?
  8. Do you want to get to the root cause of chronic symptoms?
  9. Do you want to reduce stress and its negative impact on your physical health?

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