Trauma & PTSD Treatment
in Houston, TX and Online
Are The Effects of Trauma Affecting Your Wellbeing?
Trauma therapy can help you heal.
Trauma therapy can help you heal.
Trauma can be caused by a specific event (like an accident, assault, or life-threatening event), a recurring event (like combat exposure or repeated abuse), or a developmental, childhood, or relational trauma (like physical or emotional neglect in childhood). Trauma can also be caused by many other frightening situations, such as bullying, abuse, rape, crime, war, victimization, and shaming/humiliation. When we are in the presence of dangers like these, our bodies get ready to respond, changing physiologically to prepare to deal with the situation. This is an adaptive response when there is a threat present, but sometimes the body is not able to turn it off after the danger has passed. Whether you have been exposed to a life or death situation, or have experienced something in childhood that your body interpreted as a dangerous situation or person, the effect is the same. The trauma lives on, whether in the form of PTSD or other states of arousal, feelings of dread, doom, anxiety, avoidance, uncontrolled emotional reactions, or physical symptoms. Many people experience some form of trauma in their lives, but it can impact us in different ways. Trauma can impact your nervous system, endocrine system, emotions and memory.
Trauma & PTSD Symptoms
Physiologically, you are likely to be in a state of high arousal and anxiety or very low arousal, as in depression. You might feel depressed and hopeless, angry and irritable, or anxious and fearful. You might struggle with feelings of shame and self-blame. You could find yourself feeling isolated or disconnected from others, finding it difficult to trust people or feeling rejected. You might have physical symptoms such as muscle aches, fatigue, and chronic pain. You might struggle with recurrent or intrusive memories of the traumatic event or even nightmares. All trauma can cause problems in relationships, and it may be difficult to know what you feel at times. You may have heightened sensitivity to stimuli—sound, temperature, light, etc. Life may feel overwhelming, and you may suffer from migraines, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or other chronic medical conditions. You may feel anxious around other people, particularly in groups. Sometimes, you may feel that it is safer to disconnect from your body, your emotions, and from other people and feel numb.
The good news is that trauma therapy can help you move past the trauma you have experienced without reliving it and find new ways to relate to yourself and others.
Developmental & Relational Trauma
If you experienced developmental trauma in childhood, you may not even be aware that some of your mental health issues are related to your early history. Relational and developmental trauma can result from things like emotional neglect, physical or sexual abuse, shame, overly critical parents, being told you were not wanted, childhood medical issues, not being held enough in infancy, and many other difficult early childhood experiences. Early childhood trauma experiences can impact you whether or not you remember them, affecting your health and immune system and triggering anxiety or mood swings. Developmental trauma is psychologically similar to the trauma experienced in post-traumatic stress disorder. If you struggle with developmental or psychological trauma, you may feel like you are constantly being rejected. You may have even developed strategies to reject others before they can reject you, contributing to feelings of loneliness.
Trauma & PTSD Treatment Can Help You Move Past Trauma Into A Balanced Future
In therapy sessions, there is a focus on creating connections, both in the counseling relationship and within the rest of your life. You can learn the skills you need to safely connect with yourself and others. Many of our clients report feeling less alone and more connected to their minds and bodies during and after trauma counseling. Reconnecting with and healing the body can be a process, but it is possible to feel solid and grounded again or maybe even for the first time. You can connect with others and feel less ashamed. And you can learn skills to get unstuck. You can learn coping skills and stress management skills for when things feel difficult.
How Trauma Therapy Can Help
Your therapist can teach you skills to regulate difficult thoughts, emotions and physical symptoms as you begin coping with trauma and responding to the world in a calmer, healthier way. Through trauma therapy, you can experience a reduction in anxiety, increased self-worth and feelings of empowerment instead of powerlessness. You can experience feelings of calm and contentment for the first time. In the present moment, you can find safety, strength and resiliency. Treatment of PTSD and trauma has the added benefit of potentially healing physical symptoms and increasing your immune system as your body heals.
Trauma Therapy FAQ's
- Do you experience distressing memories or dreams?
- Do you feel your life lacks pleasure due to feeling numb?
- Do you find yourself preparing for the worst?
- Is it difficult to let go of tense feelings, even when trying to sleep?
When we experience a particularly threatening situation or loss, especially when feeling helpless or unsafe, the experience can become "frozen" in our brain. Along with the memory are the negative feelings, thoughts, and sensations associated with that experience.
Over time, if you think of the experience again, all the negative thoughts, feelings, and sensations can flood back in as the experience or trauma memory is not yet fully processed.
For example, when reminded of the experience, you might notice that you feel anxious, your heart starts racing, your breathing increases and becomes more shallow, you feel like withdrawing or avoiding the situation and you may have intrusive thoughts about the experience.
If you’re experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive memories of the trauma, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
PTSD can occur following an event that is threatening or feels overwhelming or uncontrollable. It can be a specific event such as an accident, rape, war, natural disaster, or a death of a loved one. It can also be an ongoing stressor such as abuse, interpersonal conflict, abandonment, bullying, or prolonged stress.
In these situations, people often experience a lack of safety or control, or a sense of powerlessness or helplessness. You also don’t have to experience the situation first-hand to develop PTSD. People who witness or hear about trauma from others can also develop PTSD. PTSD symptoms can begin soon after the event, or months, even years later.
When you have PTSD, the symptoms seem to stick around and don’t get better with time.
The symptoms themselves may arise suddenly or when triggered by something reminding you of the traumatic experience. PTSD treatment can be an important tool to help you learn to feel safe and secure again.
Typically, PTSD symptoms fall into the following categories:
- Stressor: experiencing, witnessing or indirectly experiencing (such as via someone else) a significant threat (or perceived threat) to one’s life or safety.
- The stressor is intrusive: you re-experience the traumatic event via intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, high levels of stress in response to reminders of the event, and/or physical symptoms in response to reminders.
- Avoidance: you tend to avoid thoughts or feelings reminding you of the trauma as well as reminders such as people and places.
- Impact on your thoughts and mood: you may experience an inability to remember details, have negative beliefs about oneself (e.g., “I am bad”), blame yourself or others for the trauma, experience negative emotions (fear, horror, anger, shame), have a lack of interest in significant activities, and/or an inability to experience positive emotions.
- Reactivity and arousal: you may experience irritability, reckless behavior, hypervigilance, heightened startle response, difficulty concentrating, and/or sleep disturbance.
- Detachment: for some people (not all), you may feel detached from oneself or as if things aren’t real.
PTSD can be very scary both emotionally and physically. If you are experiencing PTSD symptoms or have been diagnosed with PTSD, it’s important to recognize them and know that help is available. It might feel overwhelming to imagine even thinking about the source of your PTSD again. But trauma therapy can be an effective way to treat PTSD symptoms, without re-experiencing past traumas.
In trauma and PTSD treatment, one of our experienced, compassionate trauma specialists can help you work with your body, emotions, identity and beliefs to find healing.
Complex trauma is the same as developmental trauma (developmental trauma disorder). It may also be referred to as relational trauma.
Complex trauma refers to trauma that is repeated, or part of everyday life vs. a specific traumatic event. It impacts a child's ongoing development and typically occurs within a child's primary environment. Examples are lack of caregiving or repeated abuse, neglect, abandonment, separation, bullying, betrayal of trust or criticism by a caregiver.
Complex trauma impacts a child's attachment system and can have long-term impacts on future relationships as well.
Experiencing complex trauma can shape your view of yourself and the world where you see yourself negatively. Perhaps you struggle with shame and a harsh inner critic. You might have difficulty with emotion regulation and feel reactive to things others simply find annoying. You might find it hard to trust others or blame yourself when things go wrong. You might find yourself working hard to people please or strive for perfectionist standards to avoid disappointing anyone.
Complex, developmental or relational trauma can be healed through attachment focused trauma therapy. There is hope!
PTSD symptoms often include painful flashbacks of the event. You may worry that talking about the trauma will cause this to happen. These feelings are completely understandable.
But, avoiding talking or thinking about your traumatic experience won’t make it go away. Rather, you may become afraid not only of the event itself, but of anything that triggers memories of it. This can limit your life and keep you from feeling free.
Your therapist can help you move through the trauma recovery process at your own pace and make sure that you feel safe at all times. The treatment process may be difficult at times, but your therapist can help you begin to experience the world as a safe place.
Typically, it is not necessary to focus on a traumatic memory in order to heal and complete trauma processing. Treatment for PTSD and trauma is focused instead on helping you get unstuck and feeling safe and secure.
We are often told that time heals all wounds.
Unfortunately after a trauma, people replay events, experience flashbacks and get stuck in a loop of persistent thoughts and images of the events.
Further, trauma impacts everyone differently and can lead to an anxiety disorder, depression, compulsive behaviors such as overeating and eating disorder, or substance abuse, or even posttraumatic stress disorder.
You may feel stuck, with your normal fight or flight responses disrupted. Instead of being able to move forward, you feel frozen. Being stuck can affect your ability to stand up for yourself. You may struggle to be assertive. It can be hard to express anger, hard to say no, and this can have negative effects on your life.
All of these things are difficult to understand and move through without help. There is no shame in seeking help and support while working through trauma. You don’t have to stay stuck, and your therapist can help you recover from trauma as easily as possible.
Maybe the description of developmental trauma above resonated with you, but you don’t remember any traumas from childhood. It is very common not to remember events that you experienced as traumatic in childhood. And it can be hard to figure out the origin of symptoms you are struggling with now.
The bottom line, however, is that if you are experiencing trauma symptoms that are impacting your ability to feel good and function with ease, it may be worth exploring your symptoms and history with one of our trauma therapists.
We Offer Multiple Therapies for Trauma
There are many effective trauma informed therapy approaches used by mental health professionals. Your therapist may use one or more types of trauma therapy, meeting you where you are emotionally. Using effective, proven trauma therapies, your body can feel safe. Your mind can let go of painful images, thoughts or beliefs.
- EMDR therapy for PTSD and childhood trauma is a very safe and effective way for adults and children to process your experience, reduce your symptoms and move on without having to relive all the details. EMDR combines the use of bilateral stimulation (using your eyes, tapping or lights for example) with transforming negative thoughts and beliefs.
- Brainspotting for trauma and PTSD is similar to EMDR in that you do not need to relive your traumatic experiences. Instead, your therapist will use your eye positions to help you release stuck trauma.
- Somatic Therapy is a body-oriented approach to trauma therapy. It focuses on releasing traumatic shock from the body to bring calm and healing.
- NARM is a relational trauma approach for complex trauma that heals attachment, relational and developmental trauma, by working with the attachment patterns that cause symptoms and interpersonal difficulties.
- Narrative Therapy for Trauma helps you process your experience through the lens of your strengths and resilience focusing on building empowerment.
- Trauma-Focused Therapy follows a four-stage process for trauma treatment and incorporates mind and body stress reduction strategies.
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). TF-CBT focuses on reducing intense negative emotions and memories. Cognitive Processing Therapy is similar.
- Internal Family Systems Therapy is a trauma-informed therapy approach that can help with relational trauma, shame and the inner critic.
- Trauma-Focused Child & Play Therapy is a specific trauma therapy available for children who have witnessed or experienced trauma, abuse, neglect, disaster or other types of stressful experiences.
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