Are you trying to make meaning of a difficult experience? Has the emotional pain, fear, anxiety and confusion lasted longer than you thought it would?
Has your child or teen experienced an upsetting event and you haven’t seen them bounce back?
Many people associate trauma with major events such as war or natural disasters. However, any distressing events causing feelings of helplessness and that are outside of the typical human experience can be considered traumatic. Trauma is commonly divided into two categories: “Big-T” trauma and “little-t” trauma. Big-T traumas typically meet the criteria for PTSD. Big-T events are life-threatening or serious threats of physical harm such as a car accident, abuse, sexual violence, witnessing the death of a loved one, or criminal violence. Big-T trauma can happen even if the person is never physically harmed or is a witness to the event. For example, those working with traumatized individuals such as nurses or other healthcare workers. Little-t traumas are typically non-life-threatening situations but cause emotional distress, such as bullying, emotional abuse or loss of significant relationships.
According to the four types of symptoms listed in the DSM-5
- Avoiding specific locations, sights, situations, and sounds that serve as reminders of the event
- Anxiety, depression, numbness, or guilt
- Intrusive thoughts, nightmares or flashbacks
- Anger, irritability, and hypervigilance
- Aggressive, reckless behavior, including self-harm
- Sleep disturbances
Negative Mood and Cognition Symptoms
- Loss of interest in activities that were once considered enjoyable
- Difficulty remembering details of the distressing event
- Change in habits or behavior since the trauma
While many people can recover from trauma over time with the love and support of family and friends and bounce back with resiliency, others may discover effects of lasting trauma, which can cause a person to live with deep emotional pain, fear, confusion, or posttraumatic stress far after the event has passed. It is quite common to experience anxiety or feelings of edginess on a daily basis as a result of a past overwhelming or traumatic experience, but never put the two together. People have unique capacities to handle stress which impacts their ability to cope with trauma. This means that what is highly distressing to one person may not cause the same emotional response in someone else, so it’s important to examine how an event affects the individual rather than focusing on the event itself.
Art Therapy is especially healing for traumatic and upsetting experiences. This form of counseling is unique in that it engages both sides of the brain. Trauma memories are often stored in the non-verbal part of our brain and can be accessed through creative expression. As a therapist with specialized trauma training, I can help you heal and work towards wholeness with a safe, in-depth and creative approach. Put the pieces back together and begin to move forward.