Trauma Counseling in Houston

WHAT IS TRAUMA?

One does not have to be a combat soldier, or visit a refugee camp in Syria or the Congo to encounter trauma.  Trauma happens to us, our friends, our families, and our neighbors. -Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score, p.1

What is trauma?  Giller defines provides the following definition: “a traumatic event or situation creates psychological trauma when it overwhelms the individual’s ability to cope, and leaves that person fearing death, annihilation, mutilation, or psychosis. The individual may feel emotionally, cognitively, and physically overwhelmed. The circumstances of the event commonly include abuse of power, betrayal of trust, entrapment, helplessness, pain, confusion, and/or loss” (1999).

SYMPTOMS OF TRAUMA

The following is a list of some of the symptoms someone may experience after surviving a trauma.  Some of these symptoms are also signs of other mental health concerns.  Counseling can help you to better understand, manage, and ultimately alleviate these symptoms.

  • You may experience manifestations of the traumatic experience in your physical body.  For example, you might experience stomach problems, feel tense all the time, experience pain or numbness, or experience sexual problems.
  • Emotions you may experience after trauma include anxiety, terror, fear, despair, rage, or shame,
  • You may experience insomnia or difficulty staying asleep.
  • You may feel more isolated or want to withdraw from people.
  • You may have gaps in your memory or trouble remembering.
  • You may find yourself “spacing out,” feeling that the world around you is unreal, or feeling that you are not always in your body.
  • You may have a desire or impulse to physically hurt yourself
  • You may have a desire or impulse to physically hurt someone else.
  • You may have intrusive thoughts.
  • You may experience flashbacks of the trauma.
  • You may be struggling with feeling inferior or feeling guilty.  

TREATING TRAUMA

Trauma can show up as different diagnoses:  depression, anxiety, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and dissociative disorders (e.g., depersonalization, derealization, dissociative identity disorder(DID)).  An accurate diagnosis is important.  If you are being treated for depression, but the trauma history has been overlooked, then the benefits of treatment will be limited.  It’s also important to note that diagnoses can co-occur.  For example, someone could be dealing with PTSD and depression or PTSD and DID.

 

I do not believe that you must re-experience your trauma in therapy in order to heal.  Research indicates that this is not only not helpful, but can be re-traumatizing.  In the early stages of therapy, I place careful emphasis on building safety: building a safe therapeutic relationship and helping you to build an internal sense of safety.

Read more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Read more about dissociative disorders.

Read more about anxiety.

Read more about depression.