Trauma can present in many ways. It can consist of a single, jarring event or a series of complex , long-term experiences since childhood. It can include the presence of something harmful (such as abuse) or the absence of something needed for healthy development and wellbeing (such as neglect). Typically, trauma is considered to be a horrifying experience(s) that carries long-term effects, disrupting a person's sense of safety, altering one's moods and thought processes and changing the way a person relates to him/herself and others. People often report feeling "stuck" in their traumas, reliving the experience with flashbacks and nightmares, avoiding reminders of the trauma and feeling a heightened sense of arousal/anxiety, on alert for re-traumatization. When trauma manifests in significant impairment and/or distress, it can develop into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
There are several types of trauma-focused treatments that can help with processing and healing from a traumatic experience. There are less structured approaches to treatment as well as structured, evidenced-based treatments, such as cognitive processing therapy (CPT), prolonged exposure therapy (PE) and skills training for affective and interpersonal regulation (STAIR). I will work with you to identify the most appropriate type of therapy for you and help you address difficult experiences at your pace. Trauma-focused therapy can help you to face traumatic experiences, alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and re-engage with yourself and the world around you. Depending on the type of treatment employed, therapy typically involves learning about your trauma and how it affects your life, incremental exposure to thoughts, behaviors, people and places that have been avoided, modifying maladaptive perceptions of oneself and the world and developing skills to re-engage with others. This type of treatment can sound daunting and intimidating, and while it is hard work, it can be tremendously helpful toward improving people's lives, self-esteem and relationships.