Psychological trauma occurs when an individual either experiences or witnesses someone close to them endure an extremely upsetting event or events; and as a result has difficulty fully integrating the experience emotionally. Often such exposure can produce a temporary stress reaction resulting in intrusive thoughts/memories of the event(s), negative mood, dissociation, avoidance of internal and external reminders of the event(s) and hyper physiological arousal. If symptoms persist beyond 1 month, a closer look by a clinician will help determine if criteria are met for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD consists of the same symptoms but varies in intensity and length, and often requires psychological intervention.

CAUSES OF TRAUMA

 

It may be hard to believe that a trauma reaction is actually designed built into the functioning of the brain for protective measures. However, due to the intensity and duration of symptoms, the integration and healing of the trauma often needs to be assisted by a clinical professional.

 

It is important to note that it is not the traumatic event(s) that cause the trauma but the person’s subjective experience to the event(s) that manifest symptoms. It often occurs when an individual has been exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence.

 

Types of Trauma:

 

  • Natural Disasters (hurricanes, floods, earthquakes etc.)

  • Human inflicted violence (combat, bullying, robbery, rape, homicide, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse)

 

Note: human inflicted violence appears to be the most enduring, especially when it is repeated exposure, and does not necessarily have to result in bodily injury. Repeated exposure to trauma can also result in Complex Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

SYMPTOMS OF TRAUMA

 

  • Witnessing or directly experience a traumatic event or events.

  • Intrusive thoughts/memories/dreams regarding the event(s).

  • Dissociation, including flashbacks that make one feel as though the event(s) is currently happening.

  • Easily triggered by internal and external cues that remind one of the event(s).

  • Avoidance of internal and external cues that remind one of the event(s).

  • Negative changes in mood (fear, anger, horror, guilt, shame) and/or thoughts since exposure.

  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering important events surrounding the trauma(s).

  • Lack of interest in activities that were once pleasurable.

  • Lack of connection to others

  • Hyper-arousal (restless sleep, easily startled)

 

INTEGRATED TREATMENT APPROACH

 

Treatment of trauma often depends on the type of trauma and the presenting symptoms. One of the most difficult part of healing from trauma is actually having to talk about the trauma itself. However, Therahealing Psychological Services, PLLC treatment approach believes it is up to the patient to decide the comfort level and pace of telling one’s story. Initially, a detailed assessment of current symptoms will be determined in order to address symptom relief, utilizing grounding techniques and mindfulness approaches. In addition, Dr. Jones is also certified in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior therapy as another tool to help stabilize symptoms. For those whom have experienced interpersonal trauma (emotional. Physical, sexual abuse), long-term psychodynamic work focusing on influences of early childhood experiences in relation to trauma endured may be applicable.

Trauma