What Is Traumatic Stress:
- Traumatic events are shocking and emotionally overwhelming situations that may involve actual or threaten death, serious injury, or threat to physical integrity.
- Reactions to traumatic events vary considerably, ranging from relatively mild creating minor disruptions in the person’s life to severe and debilitating.
- Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are mental health diagnoses associated with traumatic stress reactions.
- Other difficulties can co-occur with mental health symptoms, including physical health problems and changes in beliefs about safety. How to decide whether you need help:
- For many people, natural coping allows the reactions to gradually diminish.
- When disturbing symptoms persist or worsen it may be useful to seek professional help.
- If attempts to cope lead to unhealthy or unhelpful outcomes (e.g. alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends and family), it may be useful to seek professional help.
I provide trauma-informed therapy to a range of trauma survivors and their families. Treatment and consultation are individualized based on the specific needs and preferences of each client. Treatment typically begins with a careful evaluation to determine the relative contributions of trauma, temperament, biology, and other factors to each client’s presenting concerns. Based on this evaluation, and in close collaboration with the client, we develop an individualized treatment plan.
I utilize an integrative approach to treatment that draws on neurobiology, cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal/relational, experiential, family systems, and EMDR. I recognize both the physiological and psychological impacts of trauma and the importance of paying attention to both through treatment that bridges mind and body. Complex PTSD/Trauma treatment recognizes the loss of emotional, social, cognitive and psychological competencies that either failed to develop properly or that deteriorated due to prolonged exposure to complex trauma. My treatment for Complex PTSD emphasizes not only the reduction of psychiatric symptoms, but equally, improvement in key functional capacities for self-regulation and strengthening of psychosocial and environmental resources. Recent prospective studies of complex trauma samples have demonstrated that psychosocial resource loss (e.g, reduced self-efficacy, prosocial behaviors, social support) is common and that these losses contribute to the severity and chronicity of PTSD symptoms over time (Betancourt, Brennan, Rubin-Smith, Fitzmaurice, & Gilman, 2010 ; Hobfoll, Mancini, Hall, Canetti, & Bonanno, 2011). I follow a 3 phase model guided by a hierarchy of your specific needs assessed in the evaluation. Phase 1 focuses on stabilization and skills strengthening and has several main functions. The Phase 1 goal of achieving patient safety entails reducing patient or environmental characteristics that make the patient a danger to him/herself or others. This often requires reduction of symptom acuity and improvement in basic self-management skills. Phase 2 focuses directly on the processing of trauma memories. The therapeutic benefit of the process arises from the patient’s capacity to maintain emotional engagement with the distressing memories while simultaneously remaining physically, emotionally and psychologically intact. The therapist’s presence, encouragement, guidance and feedback support the patient in maintaining a sense of safety and in the continued exploration of the memory. Phase 3 marks the transition out of therapy to greater engagement in community life. Towards the end of the treatment, therapist and patient consolidate the gains in emotional, social and relational competencies.