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Trauma Therapy

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

—Helen Keller

When people are abused, a core part of the injury is the relational injury—the betrayal—that often changes not only a person’s sense of safety, but their view of the world and who they are in it. These understandings, informed by the distortions of an abusive environment, can go on to create havoc on an adult’s sense of self and in that person’s relationships.

Additionally, many survivors continue to experience aspects of the trauma—they quietly cope with flashbacks, body memories, nightmares, fears and anxieties…

As terrible as trauma and abuse are, we also find in our clients a real resilience. We value the whole person, and know that the traumatic experiences are just one aspect, though often very impactful. We collaborate with our survivor clients to understand and rework the narratives created by abuse. Together we seek to identify triggers, reactions and patterns with the goal of deepening understanding and compassion, developing strategies to cope, and moving toward new experience, enabling change, growth, and healing.

We recognize that there are many kinds of trauma. While we welcome survivors of any kind of trauma, we particularly work with interpersonal trauma—physical and sexual abuse and assault, emotional and verbal abuse, neglect, harassment and coercion, and religious trauma. We also have a particular interest in medical trauma.

Issues Addressed in Trauma Therapy Include:

  • Intrusive memories, flashbacks (visual, auditory, emotional, tactile), body memories
  • Dissociation, including “checking out,” feeling disconnected from your emotions or from your body, losing track of time in a disorienting way
  • Triggers, or strong reactions that seem out of proportion to the present moment
  • Your old coping and survival strategies now getting in your way
  • Shame or self-blame
  • Avoidance of situations that trigger your trauma reactions – particularly if it gets in the way of your optimal functioning
  • Negative beliefs about self, harsh internal dialogue, tough internal critic
  • Anxiety, hypervigilance (being on “red alert,” strong startle response…)
  • You or your loved ones not understanding the reactions you are having 
  • Religious trauma

What to Expect from Trauma Therapy with Us

Our approach to treating trauma is relational. Interpersonal trauma happens in relationship, and we find that it is often healed in the context of relationship, and a corrective relational experience. There are many approaches to addressing trauma, including some newer somatic ones that have much to offer. While we are not trained in somatic approaches, we do refer to providers who practice them when useful. Sometimes that is a transfer of care, and sometimes it’s adjunctive, where we maintain our therapy at the same time.

Often trauma therapy involves sharing aspects of the traumatic experience, though we don’t want to plunge you into painful memories unnecessarily. Everyone has a different window of tolerance, and we’ll work with you to try to keep you in yours as best as we can. We typically start by just getting the outline of trauma. Perhaps information like your age(s) at the time of trauma, who was abusive, what kind of abuse. That in itself is challenging for some people to discuss, and we’ll go at your pace. 

We very much hold that there is a reason for whatever experiences or reactions you are having. Sometimes the work is to make sense of them. We don’t believe you have to recount or relive every traumatic experience to heal. Some people never have more than fragments of recollection about what happened to them, and that’s okay. We don’t go digging for more. We work with what we have, and what your experience is. While therapy does not need to be a detailed rehashing of what happened to you, if it’s important to your process, we will meet you there. We will teach you skills for self-regulation, and we know that the presence of a caring other can provide a co-regulation that also facilitates healing.