Have you struggled all your life with feelings of guilt and shame, but you don’t know why? Does it ever feel like you’re just not good enough? Maybe you’ve asked yourself again and again if it’s because of traumatic past events, but you’re not entirely sure.
However deep down, a part of you can sense that something isn’t right. You may struggle with self-confidence and, feeling on edge all the time, don’t feel at home in your body and mind. Over time, you may become so used to telling yourself that you’re unlovable or a bad person that you no longer question it—you accept it as reality.
Trauma happens when an experience overwhelms your brain so much that you can’t process it. As a result, the memory of what happened doesn’t feel like a memory—it feels like it’s still happening. For many people, this causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They relive their trauma in flashbacks, nightmares, and panic attacks.
However, some forms of trauma are more subtle in their effects. Most people know that living in a combat zone or suffering from domestic violence can be traumatic. But many of us don’t realize that emotional neglect, poverty, chronic illness, and breakups can also cause trauma. These experiences often leave us with invisible scars, disrupting our sense of safety and well-being.
Trauma is unpredictable and characterized by huge swings in emotions. Sometimes we might feel anxious and hypervigilant, like something bad is about to happen; other times we may feel numb, like nothing affects us. Since traumatic events can be big or small, singular or repetitive, short or long, visible or invisible, it can be difficult for us to recognize whether we have suffered trauma. Oftentimes, we only recognize the awful symptoms that may or may not make sense to us.
Let’s face it: opening up about trauma isn’t easy. In the past, people may have invalidated your struggles or told you that you were overreacting. Here at Select Counseling, you are encouraged to share your story and express your emotions freely. You are not to blame for your trauma and you are not a bad person. We want to help you sort through any shaming messages you’ve told yourself and teach you to practice self-compassion.
Just as you learned to survive the ripple effects of your trauma, you can learn to let go of unhealthy coping mechanisms and develop a healthier sense of self. To begin the healing process, you can use our contact page or call 410-949-1238 for a free phone consultation.
Sadly, many traumatized people do not get the support they need. Oftentimes, they talk themselves out of getting help by minimizing what they went through or comparing it to someone else’s experience. Many of them are also afraid of going to therapy because they don’t want to confront the trauma they experienced in childhood. They might use drugs, alcohol, or sex to “escape” their problems instead of going to therapy.
We know how hard it is to confront the pain of the past. That’s why our approach to trauma and PTSD counseling is very gentle and does not require you to “relive” what happened to you. We want to go at whatever pace is comfortable for you and help you achieve lasting peace in your life.
Letting go of the past isn’t easy, but we will always make sure you feel safe and comfortable in the process. With approaches like EMDR, you don’t even have to say much about your trauma—the stimulation exercises allow you to process it nonverbally. Avoiding your feelings is an understandable trauma response, but unfortunately over time, it only increases your pain. Therapy is a chance to break out of avoidant behaviors and work through trauma in a safe and controlled way.
No, you are not at fault. Blaming yourself for what someone did to you is a way to downplay your trauma—it’s like saying, “They didn’t do anything that bad, because I didn’t stop them or try hard enough to.” This is a survival mechanism. It’s your brain’s way of trying to protect you from the severity of what happened. Therapy can help you overcome feelings of guilt and shame and understand that you are not to blame for your trauma.
Many of our clients tell us the same thing. The problem is that a lot of the strategies that seem to help with trauma are avoidant in nature—they reinforce the temptation to escape your feelings. A lot of therapy, too, focuses solely on ways to reduce stress without addressing trauma at its root. At Select Counseling, we want to help you break out of avoidant behaviors and heal from trauma instead of just slapping a Band-Aid on it. What’s more, we strive to make trauma therapy as individualized as possible—if something didn’t work for you in the past, we encourage you to tell us so that we can do things differently!