“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway
Trauma Therapy For Adults, Children And Teens
Each year, millions of people are exposed to psychologically traumatizing events. For some, it might involve an automobile accident, for others a natural disaster, war, sexual abuse or domestic violence. Although the type of events that give rise to trauma vary greatly, the reactions people have to these sort of events are often very similar. When someone experiences such a circumstance, his or her brain quite naturally responds in that moment by shifting into a ‘fight or flight’ mode. When things go as they should, the brain returns to normal functioning after the threat has passed, and life moves on as usual. But for some people, this state of high alert never fully subsides. Life after trauma is experienced as one of frequently being on ‘high alert’. In these instances, one is said to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Some people will experience times when they feel like their old self, only to then find that the most unexpected and seemingly non-threatening reminder of the trauma sweeps them back into a state of terror or rage. This ‘new normal’ may last for years for certain individuals, and for others it may haunt them for a lifetime.
It is not just the brain that changes with trauma. Frequently, a person’s outlook on life, relationships, and even physical reactions become transformed. What had felt safe before can now ignite a firestorm of gut wrenching panic or intense anger. Something as mild as a change in the tone of voice used by a spouse can send the person with PTSD into full-blown fight or flight mode.
No matter how often the traumatized individual reminds him or herself that “everything is fine,” the body stubbornly responds as though danger is very close. I have seen these reactions in soldiers when I was deployed to Iraq, and I have seen them in children when working at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center. PTSD has a way of stealing one’s life, taking it hostage as one lives both in the present and the past.
The good news is that you don’t need to remain hostage. There are effective means for helping someone who struggles with PTSD-- strategies that are based on years of research and experience and proven to be effective for most people. PTSD is not a life sentence. It is, however, an opponent that stands in the way of living fully. With that in mind, it pays to be well equipped to win the battle against overwhelming stress. Invictus Psychological Services is here to help.
How Most People Experience PTSD Symptoms
Symptoms of PTSD can present in many ways. For example, you may experience sudden bouts of anxiety, or anger, nightmares, flashbacks and periods of feeling helpless. You may also avoid certain people and places because they tend to remind you of the trauma. At times, it may feel that you are in danger, yet there is no objective reason for believing this to be the case. Due to changes in your mood and behavior relationships may suffer, which in turn creates even more stress in your life.
Regardless of the frequency or severity of your symptoms, living with PTSD is often a frightening, confusing and lonely experience. You may be carrying a great deal of shame about what happened, questioning why certain memories are missing, why you survived or what you could have done differently.
To distract yourself, you may have turned to drugs or alcohol for relief. You might feel like you’ve lost trust in everything, including your own memories and perceptions, and wonder if you’ll ever be able to feel stable and whole again.
Fortunately, whether you are a child, teen or an adult, there are ways to fight back and emerge from this a transformed, happier person.
You Are Not Alone
If you’re struggling with stress symptoms following a traumatic event, you are not alone. According to National Center for PTSD, 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat or disaster, or to witness death or injury. Approximately seven percent of Americans will experience PTSD during the course of their lifetime, and almost five million people are diagnosed with this disorder each year. Unfortunately, many of those who struggle with PTSD never receive help, but instead wrestle with the symptoms unassisted for many months, years and sometimes for a lifetime.
PTSD Therapy Can Help You Heal And Move Forward
Over the past 20 years, PTSD has been a major focus of psychological research, resulting in new and effective approaches to treatment. When working with clients who struggle with symptoms due to trauma, I draw from these proven strategies and work with the client’s preferences to find the best approach for that individual. 
In light of this, trauma therapy for one individual may look different than it does for another person. Nevertheless, there are also commonalities among nearly all therapies aimed at dealing with trauma reactions. That is because they all share the overall goal of helping one to be free from the troubling symptoms that were described earlier. Frequently, the best way to achieve that end is to help the client learn how to resolve the fears and confusion that have arisen as a result of the trauma.
I have been working with children, teens and adults affected by trauma for many years. For over two decades, I worked at the University of California Davis, Medical Center CAARE clinic that specializes in treating traumatized children and adolescents. In addition, I was deployed to Iraq (with the 1835th Combat Stress Control) where I was the sole Army psychologist on a base with twelve thousand soldiers and three thousand civilians. This sort of experience and familiarity with seeing a variety of clients, and remaining current with research findings, is what I bring to the task of helping my clients.
I know that life may feel impossible right now. With the right guidance and support, however, it’s possible to learn practical/effective strategies that lead to sustained change. The valuable skills you learn here can help you not only now, but also as you continue along the path of life into the future.
You may still have questions or concerns about trauma treatment…
I’m afraid that trauma therapy will make me feel worse.
There is no doubt that resolving trauma temporarily raises discomfort for some. The good news is that there are a number of approaches that may be used to defuse PTSD symptoms, some of which do not require an intense focus on recounting troubling memories. The options available will be discussed with you, including the “pros and cons” of each approach. Then you can decide how best to proceed.
I’ve been to therapy before and it didn’t help.
If you’ve been to therapy before, I’ll make sure to discuss what about your previous experience was dissatisfying. Most of the time, when therapy doesn’t work, it’s because there wasn’t strong connection between you and therapist. Moreover, there is no “one size fits all” approach to counseling. If we end up working together, part of our early discussions will focus on what approach you would prefer to take in resolving the troubles you are experiencing.
I don’t want to talk about what happened.
That is entirely understandable. Although the most researched, and common, approach to resolving trauma reactions involves focusing on the traumatic event, there are other options. Perhaps one of these alternatives would work well for you. If reviewing traumatic events is something you don’t wish to do, we can work with alternative approaches. Alternatively, you may simply wish to slowly work into a review of events that are distressing. Moving at a pace that feels right for you, we can reduce your distress so that you’re able to leave painful memories where they belong—in the past.
Ready to Feel Better?
If you have additional questions about trauma therapy, I invite you to call me at (916) 790-5138 or contact me to set up a free 15-minute consultation. I’m happy to discuss your specific needs and answer any questions related to counseling or my practice in Folsom, CA.
 Benish, S. G., Imel, Z. E. & Wampold, B. E. The relative efficacy of bona fide psychotherapies for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. Clinical Psychology Review, June; 28 (5), 2008.
Gillies, D., Taylor, F., Gray, C., O’Brien, L. & D’Abrew, N. Psychological therapies for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents (Review). Evidence Based Child Health, May: 8 (3), 2013.