Trauma Therapy Revisited
The following blog relies heavily on prior reflections made by Justin, back in December of 2020. As Independence Day recently passed, I had the opportunity to attend the VFW‘s barbecue. During the fireworks, someone left because the noises triggered anxiety and trauma. It gave me pause to consider the unique circumstances that each person faces and the way trauma is treated in the mental health community. Here, I revisit that blog with Justin with a focus on why our practice takes so seriously the issues related to trauma & the benefits of trauma therapy for anyone suffering from trauma, including our first responders, active duty military, & veterans.
As many of our current clients know, we work quite a bit with the local VA to provide care through the VA Community Care Network. This has been a passion of mine since before I came onboard here at Cornerstone. As an educator and adjunct professor, I have met with and spoken with countless veterans who felt like our society had seemingly forgotten them. Word spread to the local veterans that ‘if you’re looking for a history course to take where you’ll feel at home, take Mike’s class.’ I cannot begin to tell you how gratifying that was. I didn’t set out to make the class ‘for vets’, but I created an atmosphere that is respectful of their sacrifices and cognizant of that reality and worldview.
As Cornerstone has continued to work with the veterans, active-duty, and first responder community, one aspect of care that is prevalent is trauma. Not many of us will get through life without facing our own share of challenges, but some people experience not just stress and strife, but deep trauma. And those who serve in that community are often faced with a series or variety of traumatic events that can be deeply significant.
Trauma may come in a variety of forms, from physical or emotional abuse in relationships to a car accident. Major traumatic events, like rape and war, can leave a lingering toll on a person physically and mentally. Here, it is important to address that trauma head on. Rather than skirt around the issue, we recognize that the trauma exists and, in some cases, it may be crippling.
When a person experiences trauma, their entire world changes almost instantly. Many trauma survivors have a struggle to feel safe. They begin to feel anxiety and depression, have trouble sleeping, and may experience behavioral changes that are frightening to them and their loved ones. This is compounded by an unreasonable belief that if a person cannot get past their trauma, they are weak. This societal rigidity regarding mental health struggles is one that we at Cornerstone strive to correct.
How Does Trauma Therapy Work?
When you have experienced trauma and begin to see some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s time to explore treatment so you can begin healing. The idea of therapy can feel scary and overwhelming to people with PTSD, mainly because they need to have a sense of total control in order to feel safe.
The important thing for you to understand about trauma therapy, however, is that it is really something that can empower you if you struggle with PTSD. With the help of a caring and qualified mental health professional, you can begin to process past events, stripping that traumatic event of its power.
Trauma therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and has the potential to actually change the way your brain works, specifically working to change how we think and feel. Through specific tools and strategies, we can retrain our brains to let go of the fear and begin to heal.
Put simply, is that the goals of trauma therapy are typically:
- To safely process the traumatic event
- To eliminate the symptoms of trauma
- To improve day-to-day functioning
- To regain your personal power
- To obtain the skills and tools to prevent an individual from relapsing
At its core, trauma therapy can often be exactly what anyone who is struggling to deal with a traumatic event needs. You might not even fully understand what you’re going through, but you know something isn’t quite right. That’s where we come in. If you or a loved one are living with PTSD, it’s important that you recognize the symptoms and seek help. Life does not have to continue to be scary or overwhelming. There are strategies that can help you process your pain so that you may continue to live your life full of joy and peace.
Finally, you deserve to receive the help you need. It is easy to ignore yourself, to compartmentalize. But there are ways of treating your trauma. We work with the VA, in part, because of our belief that everyone, especially those who served for our country in times of war, deserves the best care possible and the necessary help for the trauma they are dealing with. If you would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to help you leave the past in the past and move on to brighter tomorrows.