The most common myth about trauma is that it is either something that happens to a member of the military or it is a really, really violent event.
Yes, both of these things can qualify as trauma. But also, a real big no.
What is trauma?
Here's the deal. What makes an event traumatic is not the event itself, but the individual's perception of the event. This means that you and another person could have experienced the same event, but one of you may perceive it as traumatic, and the other may not.
At our therapy practice in Pikesville, MD, we define trauma as "something that happens to you directly, something that you witness happening to someone else, or something that someone has told you about." So, there is of course trauma that you directly experience. On the other hand, there is secondhand trauma, often called vicarious trauma. You can suffer from vicarious trauma just as much as from direct trauma.
Examples of Trauma
The events of 9/11 internally affected millions of Americans, even though they were not all present in New York City at the time. And y'all... seeing our Black brothers and sisters murdered at the hands of police is very traumatic. When a community you are a part of experiences discrimination, violence, or injustice, it affects you too. Even if you have not experienced the loss of a loved one due to homicide, seeing people of your community experience violence can be damaging to your mental health.
When considering if something is traumatic, we consider three things. Did the event affect...
- How you see yourself?
- Your perception of others?
- Your worldview?
You may be wondering, "how do I know if I've been impacted by trauma?" Here are some trauma symptoms:
- Decreased desire to engage in sexual intercourse
- Fixation on structure, rules, performance, or control
- Being bothered or easily angered by what others do or don't do
- Loss of friends and/or withdrawal from social engagement
- Little or no desire to engage in hobbies that once made you happy
- Struggles engaging in intimate relationships
- Sabotaging relationships or opportunities out of fear of a positive outcome
- Difficulty getting along with your boss, co-workers, or family members
Photo by Sharon Mccutcheon on Unsplash
What is a "trigger"?
You've probably heard the word "trigger" at least once. Or, you probably have heard someone refer to something as "triggering." When you heard it, the word "trigger" was probably explained in a way that suggested that being triggered is bad. However, this is not true.
At Revitalizing Inner Self Essence, a trigger is defined as "something or someone that reminds you of something that happened in the past that didn't go well." Feeling triggered really means that your body thinks you are currently in danger. So, your body wants to do something to protect you. Experiencing triggers is normal. And, feeling triggered happens to everyone! Your body is not only supposed to protect from danger, but is designed to do so. It's not a bad thing, but a survival thing. Let your body feel what it needs to. Listen to it. Working through trauma therapy can help you identify triggers and connect with your body to listen to them more intuitively.
Examples of triggers:
- Certain scents
- People that resemble folks that have harmed you
- Hearing hurtful phrases that were used against you before
- Not being heard or being ignored
- Sense of a loss of control
- Being yelled at or spoken to unkindly
- Experiencing discrimination
- Someone shaming or blaming you
- Getting cheated on
- Feeling or being controlled or manipulated
Trauma Therapy Takes Time
You may be having difficulty starting a new relationship or believing in yourself. On the other hand, you may have no desire to have sex with your partner or maybe you feel lost like you don't know yourself anymore. These are deep internal things to discuss and process. At my Pikesville, MD therapy practice, I understand that it takes a lot to feel comfortable with a therapist and discuss these issues. So, please know that we'll take things at your pace.
Trauma therapy involves a lot of pacing, which means that we begin where you want to. We'll make sure that trauma therapy goes at a pace that feels comfortable for you. We will work slowly in order to give you time to develop trust and learn skills to help you feel better. As you develop skills, you will work with a therapist to begin to unpack layers of traumatic events.
Here's the honest truth - trauma therapy is not a quick fix. Working through trauma therapy takes time, often months or even years. And, sometimes things get worse before they get better. This work takes time because change takes time. But, trauma therapy works.
Trauma Therapy Roadmap
Here, you can see the six stages that we will work through in trauma therapy. Healing from trauma is a process. It's a major change. And, we know that change takes time. So, your therapist will help you find patience in healing and help you learn how to treat yourself with grace and kindness throughout the process.
My Approach to Trauma Therapy
Trauma therapy is all about your safety. Therefore, it involves a lot of pacing. It's important that you get to know me, I get to know you, and that we spend time building a strong therapeutic foundation. Healing from trauma involves integrative and interactive interventions. Plus, I am not the therapist that is going to just sit and nod. I help you find the connection between your past and present while encouraging you to accept accountability for your future. In trauma therapy, we will utilize creative tools like:
- Therapy cards
- Singing bowls
- Guided visualization
These tools will help your body re-story trauma. You want to heal, and I want to help you get there. I believe that you have all the tools within yourself, and it's time to awaken them.
Begin Healing with Trauma Therapy in Pikesville, MD
Over the years, I have had the honor of helping resilient women find compassion for themselves and heal from trauma. If you're ready to begin healing, please reach out to my therapy practice in Pikesville, MD for trauma therapy.
Photo by Ashley Byrd on Unsplash
Curious about beginning counseling but not quite ready to start? Check out some of our blog posts.
- What happens behind closed doors: 3 overlooked sources of trauma in the Black community
- Black Women Deserve Better: Healing from Racial Trauma
- Perfectionism, is that you? Nah, I am not available: How perfectionism holds you back
Other Services at Revitalizing Inner Self Essense
It is an honor of mine to work with strong and resilient women at my Pikesville, MD-based counseling practice. It is my priority to honor the life you've lived before walking through my doors and to help you find a future you love. All of my work is rooted in trauma therapy, whether you are seeking services as a survivor of domestic violence or homicide. I help women heal using a variety of skills including EMDR therapy and Mind-Body Medicine.