How PTSD and Trauma Differ
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) results from experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event in which one’s sense of safety was threatened, or perceived as threatened.
PTSD is diagnosed by a mental health professional when a specific cluster of symptoms are experienced such as flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, negative thinking, and negative emotions.
Trauma on the other hand does not have a formal diagnosis. Yet most people have experienced some level of trauma in their lives. The results of trauma to one’s well-being might show up as difficulty connecting with and trusting others, an inability to know what you want and need, not being able to ask for help, poor self-control, as well as anxiety and depression.
How I Treat PTSD and Trauma
Witnessing or directly experiencing traumatic events often results in a maladaptive response of running away, shutting down, or aggression, also known as the Fight/Flight/Freeze response.
The Fight/Flight/Freeze response is a cascade of automatic physical responses in the body intended to keep us alive when faced with a threatening situation, and our safety is at risk. Automatic physical reactions affect the physical, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and digestive systems. The cascade of physical responses helps us to stay alive.
The problem occurs when we misinterpret cues in our environment as unsafe when they are not. The stimulus interpreted as unsafe is, in reality, uncomfortable, loud, disappointing, or stressful, but it is not dangerous. People who suffer from trauma or PTSD lack coping skills such as emotional regulation, which results in a maladaptive Fight/Flight/Freeze response, such as physical or emotional aggression. Physical aggression includes inflicting injury to a person, property, or animal, such as hitting, kicking, sexual assault, or assault with a weapon. Emotional aggression includes belittling, threatening, cyberbullying, and berating.
In our work together we will examine various therapeutic approaches to healing.
Very often, therapy for PTSD begins by improving how we care for the physical body with love and self-compassion.
The emotional and cognitive dimensions of your traumatic experiences will be processed in a safe and non-judgmental space.
The objective of processing the trauma is to recognize the internalized meaning of the traumatic experience and arrive at a more adaptive meaning, one that reflects a strength, rather than a victim perspective. This is a valuable aspect of trauma recovery as the unconscious and internalized meaning of traumatic experiences defines our sense of self or ego.
Various modalities of Energy Psychology such as tapping are very effective techniques that I use to help clients to cope with flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and emotional reactivity associated with trauma.
Tapping is influenced by Eastern healing modalities which utilize the subtle energy systems of the body, as well as Western traditions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to change internal response patterns. Although the treatment that utilizes the subtle energy systems of the body might be quite unfamiliar, the efficacy of Tapping and other modalities of Energy Psychology reflect robust efficacy in several scientific studies.