Trauma fundamentally changes the brain, and feeling stuck in past trauma often makes it challenging to feel safe in everyday life. Even if you don't consciously think your trauma affects you, you may not realize its full impact.
Many people with traumatic pasts struggle in their current relationships. You may find it hard to trust others, or you may trust too easily and quickly. Boundaries can seem like an abstract concept, especially if people badly violated them before. Sometimes trauma causes people to self-medicate or try to avoid their pain altogether. You may also try to distract yourself with work or try to reason that "things weren't that bad." While these strategies may provide some quick relief, they don't change your emotional state, and they can often stunt the recovery process.
You can't undo what happened in your past, but trauma therapy can help you heal from it.
Understanding How Trauma Affects You
No matter when a traumatic event occurred, the impact can affect you psychologically, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially.
You may be struggling with trauma if you:
struggle to remember certain trauma-related memories
avoid or withdraw from people/situations that remind you of past trauma
experience chronic pain or unexplained and uncomfortable physical sensations
have sleep problems or nightmares related to a trauma memory
feel hypervigilant about your surroundings
become angry or hostile when feeling triggered
have trauma reminders that cause you to avoid certain situations or people
feel immense guilt/shame over how you "should" have responded
have mental health symptoms of depression or anxiety
These symptoms can occur at any point, and some people feel surprised to notice them long after a trauma occurs. Chronic trauma symptoms may be indicative of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Recognizing Complex Trauma
Complex trauma doesn't have a defined beginning or end, which can make it more challenging to define or even understand.
Some of the main types of complex trauma I see in my practice include:
generational trauma across families
narcissistic abuse within intimate relationships
past or current experiences of neglect
systemic oppression related to being part of a marginalized community
These traumas may be "normalized" by certain communities. For example, family members may justify unhealthy behavior patterns because "that's the way it's always been." In addition, if you're used to cycles of abuse, you may suffer from the effects of being gaslit, and you could also unknowingly seek relationships that perpetuate more traumatic experiences.
EMDR for Trauma Recovery
EMDR, short for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is an evidence-based treatment model that resolves the emotional or psychological harm associated with trauma. Research on trauma recovery shows that EMDR often works faster than traditional talk therapy.
EMDR works on the belief that repetitive sets of bilateral stimulation, which can be done through guided eye movements, sounds, or tapping, can desensitize people to their traumatic memories. You learn how to replace negative thoughts with more positive ones. EMDR can be a standalone treatment, but it can also be integrated with other trauma-focused techniques, including ego state interventions, inner child work, and psychodynamic therapy.
After completing EMDR, you will likely notice significantly less stress and feel a sense of resolution with your past. Trauma-related body tension also decreases or goes away entirely. You won't forget the traumatic events that happened to you, but they will no longer have such a grip on your well-being. While many mental health professionals provide trauma-focused treatments, only a licensed therapist with EMDR training can provide EMDR in their therapy practice.
Trauma Therapy in Northwest Arkansas
The decision to seek support can feel scary, but it's so courageous to reach out for help. Unresolved trauma can affect every part of your well-being. If your trauma-related issues are causing you distress, I want you to know that healing is possible, and trauma survivors can become thrivers.
While you can't change what happened to you, you can change how you interpret and react to the distress you experienced. Trauma therapy allows you to harness new strengths and unleash a resilience you've never known.
As an EMDR certified therapist and someone who continues this work personally, I recognize the vulnerability associated with the trauma healing process. In addition to EMDR, I continue to obtain training and consultation and utilize components of ego state work, grounding exercises, person centered validation and psychodynamic interventions to enhance embodiment.
Regardless of what happened to you, I know how hard it can be to talk about. I will never push you further than you feel ready to be pushed, but I will also encourage you to take healthy risks that promote a more meaningful recovery. You deserve support and guidance. I serve Rogers, Fayetteville, and the surrounding greater Northwest Arkansas area. I would be honored to join you on your healing journey.