trauma and C/ptsd

There is no greater agony
than bearing an untold story inside you.
— Maya Angelou

There is now greater understanding of the role trauma plays mental health. As part of this the definition of trauma has broadened beyond sudden traumatic experiences to also include complex trauma, whose effects are repeated and build up over time.

Both single-incident and complex trauma create changes in the structure of your brain, in the function of your nervous system, and in your mental health (such as your mood, behavior, resilience, and identity).

Single-incident trauma can include witnessing or being the victim of a crime, severe medical trauma such as a major injury or heart attack, or even “moral injury” situations such as killing someone in combat. Complex trauma can include things like growing up in a emotionally unsafe family, caring for someone with a serious illness, or even being a target of widespread sociocultural oppressions like racism.

Not everyone who goes through those things will end up with trauma or C/PTSD; it is highly individual.

The good news is there is lots of research that shows that your brain is capable of tremendous change. Somatic therapies like EMDR can help restructure the brain and teach the nervous system to regulate itself better, increasing your ability to tolerate challenging experiences and to feel positive emotions like strength, safety, or happiness.

As a trauma oriented, non-pathologizing therapist, my focus is not so much what’s “wrong” with you but on what happened to you, and how you survived it. Using body based therapies to help you process and integrate your past, while also learning new ways to respond and adapt, can help you reduce these symptoms and move toward healing.