Traumatic events happen in most people’s lives. These events overwhelm our sense of being safe in the world; they tear away from us our assumption of things being ‘okay’. If we are fortunate we don’t experience too many of these and we are able to spontaneously heal and recover our feeling of safety. Having safe, secure nurturing relationships in our lives goes a long way to making things right again.
Sometimes we experience traumatic events that are too severe or too frequent for our natural resiliency to handle. Then we begin to experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can injure us emotionally, psychologically, cognitively, spiritually and physically. PTSD can last for a few days or for decades. The symptoms of PTSD include:
- being hyper-vigilant or ‘on-guard’
- feeling emotionally numb
- having flashbacks, unwanted reminders and dreams of the trauma
- becoming pessimistic about the world and the future
- experiencing a loss of religious or spiritual faith
- various physical conditions including excess sweating, flushes and chills, feeling faint, muscular aches and pains and digestive difficulties.
Traumatic dissociation is a form of complex PTSD. When faced with overwhelming trauma one of the creative coping strategies available to the brain is to create a psychological separation from the event. Our brains can do this by disconnecting us from the memory of the events, from the world around us, from our feelings, from our body, from our mind and from our identity. If we do this repeatedly it can become a habit that can cause problems for us later in life when we want to be more connected to ourselves, family and friends and the world around us. Chronic traumatic dissociation can lead to the development of Depersonalization, Derealization and Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Community Counselling Centre therapists work from a trauma-informed and relational client-centered perspective as we know that building trust and safety with our clients is the foundation for healing and growth. Psychotherapy for PTSD and Traumatic Dissociation is customized according to the needs and temperament of the client. The first priority is creating with our clients the experience and skills needed to feel stable and safe in their lives. For some clients it may be appropriate to also do trauma processing. And finally assisting our clients in rebuilding and building life skills and healthy relationships with selected family and friends is important.