Bessel van der Kolk
“Trauma constantly confronts us with our fragility and with man’s inhumanity to man, but also with our extraordinary resilience.”
Life after trauma can feel numb or so overwhelming, hopeless, and frightening. If this is your experience or the experience of a loved one, you are not alone. Research indicates that about two-thirds of Americans have experience at least one traumatic experience during childhood alone. Traumas may include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, living with a family member with a severe mental illness or substance use problem, accidents, disasters, childhood separation from a parent, and other stressors. Trauma impacts the whole person – body and brain – increasing risk for health problems, mental health problems, and interpersonal problems. Sometimes this prolonged stress develops into PTSD.
Children who have experienced repeated, prolonged trauma during development often do not neatly fit a PTSD diagnosis, but struggle in many ways due to disrupted neurodevelopment. For these children, trauma symptoms may look like oppositional behavior, extreme mood swings, anxiety, depression, and sometimes difficulty with attention.
Even years after a traumatic experience is over, unprocessed trauma related networks of cells in the brain may be reactivated at the slightest hint of danger – mobilizing energy needed for fight/flight/freeze responses – and causing the release of massive amounts of stress hormones. This feels like unpleasant emotions, intense physical sensations, and sometimes impulsive and aggressive actions. These reactions may feel incomprehensible and overwhelming. Survivors of trauma often feel out of control and alone. Sometimes people cope with these overwhelming experiences by disconnecting from their sensations, relationships, and emotions.
Our clinicians would be honored to gently and compassionately walk with you or your loved one on the road to feeling safe, again, or maybe safe for the first time. Evidence-based trauma treatment approaches used by our clinicians include: Trauma Focused – Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency (ARC), EMDR, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, Mindfulness training, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills training, and Biofeedback.