Did you experience trauma as a child, teenager or adult such as sexual, physical, mental, emotional abuse or neglect? Have you struggled with understanding your feelings, thoughts surrounding the event? These type of traumatic events can alter our identity, self-esteem, world view, belief systems and spirituality.
While some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder following a traumatic event (see description of symptoms below) others may develop depression or anxiety, while others just have difficulty processing and making sense of the event. Whether you have post-traumatic symptoms, depression, anxiety and/or just want to make sense of what happened to you, I can help.
Sexual and Physical Abuse: Were you sexually or physically abused as a child by a family member, acquaintance or stranger? Did this abuse cause feelings of shame, guilt, confusion? Do you feel that it made you feel bad about yourself, that you were worthless or that you didn't matter? Did you suffer from low self-value after the abuse, feeling like you didn't have any power or say in your life?
Or maybe you were sexually or physically assaulted as a young adult, in college or later. This abuse has caused you to feel fearful of being alone. You also may feel an intensity of anger and sadness or the opposite: a feeling of being numb, detached from yourself. You may feel depressed as a result or you may feel a sense of increased anxiety, being on alert, or fear. You may have flashbacks, memories or intrusive thoughts that are hard to control.
I have helped many women and men deal with the painful feelings surrounding sexual or physical abuse. In counseling sessions, I work to build rapport and trust and allow each client to take the time they need to process issues. Therapy may involve: talking about the painful events, discussing the effects of the abuse, and working on ways to decrease depression, anxiety, PTSD, low self-esteem. Therapeutic process may include talk therapy, use of writing and art therapy, mindfulness practice, bibliotherapy (reading books).
Emotional or Mental Abuse: Did you grow up with a parent or have a partner that berated you often? Did you hear words about yourself like: lazy, stupid, slow, dumb, ugly? Were you criticized for how you dressed, how you looked, how you performed tasks? Were you yelled at for not knowing what the other person wanted, for not acting quickly enough, for not being perfect enough? Do you still hear that person's voice in your head yelling at you and making you feel bad? Do you feel you suffer from low self-esteem as a result of the abuse?
If so I am here to help. Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as sexual or physical abuse. It can damage your self-value and dig down deep into the core of how you feel about yourself. Therapy sessions can help to uncover those negative messages you were given about yourself, make them conscious and work on counteracting them with more positive, truthful, supportive self messages and beliefs.
Neglect: Being neglected as a child can mean not having enough food, rest or attending to physical needs. For some families, neglect can also mean that emotional, psychological, spiritual and mental needs are not cared for.
Did you often feel like you were on your own as a child, that you were expected to take on adult duties and roles? Did you feel like you couldn't tell your parents that you were sad or angry? Were you expected to figure out everything by yourself, not ask questions? Were you expected to be perfect and not make any waves? Was one or both of your parents "always right" and you were never supposed to question them?
These feelings could relate to being neglected as a child. Sometimes this type of neglect is harder to name as kids don't always recognize what they don't have. Adults who come from neglectful families may have symptoms of depression, low self-esteem, may feel that they don't matter. I understand and can help you unravel the issues that come with neglect so you can rebuild your self-esteem and your belief that you and your needs matter.
I know it can be difficult to talk about issues of abuse or neglect with a counselor, but believe me, I know it helps. I can serve as a witness, a listener, a guide to moving out of the darkness. Contact me today to make that first appointment and see if we are a good fit.
Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
- You may have nightmares.
- You may feel like you are going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
- You may see, hear, or smell something that causes you to relive the event. This is called a trigger. News reports, seeing an accident, or hearing a car backfire are examples of triggers.
- You may avoid crowds, because they feel dangerous.
- You may avoid driving if you were in a car accident or if your military convoy was bombed.
- If you were in an earthquake, you may avoid watching movies about earthquakes.
- You may keep very busy or avoid seeking help because it keeps you from having to think or talk about the event.
- You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships.
- You may forget about parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.
- You may think the world is completely dangerous, and no one can be trusted.
- You may have a hard time sleeping.
- You may have trouble concentrating.
- You may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.
- You might want to have your back to a wall in a restaurant or waiting room.
"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are."
-BERNICE JOHNSON REAGON
Helpful Links For PTSD
- National Center for PTSD - Part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has a website with targeted information for anyone interested in PTSD.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder News & Research - Overview of the latest research on PTSD, including its causes, risk factors, and promising new treatments. (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Partners with PTSD - Article for the friends and family members of people with PTSD. Includes an explanation of symptoms and what you can do to help. (Gift from Within)