Trauma currently seems to be a buzzword that isn’t readily explainable for anything, or it is an explanation for everything. The reality is that trauma and the harm it causes individuals and communities alike have been with us all along. Dr. Figley brought much of what we know about trauma to light after his research was applied to first responders during 9/11. Since then our awareness of the term culturally has expanded thanks to education about trauma, further research, and the well-known Adverse Childhood Experiences Studies that demonstrate how when trauma is not addressed it can lead to both physical and psychological chronic disorders. With all this information it amazes me how the term can be used to invalidate people’s experiences even if they have never been to therapy before! While stress and trauma are not the same, it can be very stressful to live with unresolved trauma. And that unresolved trauma can lead to more stress if it is not addressed.
My explanation for trauma is that if you experienced an event that was abnormal, then your nervous system might not have been able to attenuate that event. Trauma can be a single episode, or it can be multiple events that make your experience more complex. Trauma can happen in a short period of time and have a long-lasting impact, or it can be something you have sustained long term. One key to the possibility that it is trauma is that it has impacted your ability to function in your day-to-day life.
If the event happened in your early life, it is possible that you have developed a pattern of engaging with relationships that keep the cycle of trauma going. While this is not your fault, you do deserve to work with a therapist that can help you identify and move through the process to find healing and a new way of relating. A psychodynamic approach is what I use with this, and it can truly be the heavy lifting of your therapy healing. In other words, it is not a quick fix.
When I meet with you, I will talk with you about the event, what happened (as much as you can tell me), and how you are doing currently. As we build a therapeutic relationship, I will share my impressions of what I think might be most useful. Some people need a more cognitive approach so some type of therapeutic journaling or workbook might be useful outside of the session. I have training in somatic therapy, and while this is often helpful with trauma, we might need to take these practices slowly so that you have time to adjust to change. I also use Lifespan Integration, which is a body-based modality that can especially be effective if there is a one-time event that is disrupting your functioning. As a yoga teacher and yoga therapist, I know that there are many tools that can support healing, but this is not for everyone. All these modalities are trauma-informed approaches.
In my most recent podcast titled Who Helps Helpers, I describe some ways that trauma can show up and how it can be attenuated. You can listen here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1929025/episodes/10113259
Regardless of what you have heard about the label of trauma, I hope you know that you deserve to have both support and validation. It doesn’t matter if your experience is a one-time event or more complex, it is still worth your time and energy to find a therapist that has a trauma-informed approach who can help you identify your symptoms and collaborate with you to find healing. A book that I think is a helpful companion on your journey is The Little Book of Trauma Healing by Carolyn Yoder as it offers a framework of how to disrupt cycles of trauma from a lens of both community and self-healing.
If you resonate with what I have written and you would like to set up an appointment, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an initial session. You can also find me on Instagram @dr.janys