It is not events in life which are traumatic but rather it is the way we think about those events which cause trauma. Imagine a women’s support group for survivors of sexual assault. If you were to talk to a woman who just entered the group, she might say things like “I’ve been ruined” or “I’ll never get back what was taken from me.” However, if you spoke a group member who has been attending for some time and has become empowered you might her her say something like “Surviving what I went through is a testament to how strong I am”. How these two women think about their situation determines whether they are victims or survivors.
Trauma reactions vary widely in different people. This is often due to previous experiences they have had in life before the traumatic event or events. Depression, anxiety, substance abuse and dependence, post traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and others are all appropriate and expected reactions to unresolved trauma. They are not problems in of themselves, but rather defense mechanisms, pain avoidance strategies, and survival solutions. Traumatic events can vary from “mild” parental emotional neglect to the other end of the spectrum to experiences of extreme violence and terror. These diagnoses can be resilient, not because the client is “messed up” or “weak”, but rather because they are strong enough to hold on to a defense mechanism no matter the cost.
When working with trauma survivors, I use Trauma Model Therapy (Ross, 2009). This model is used in several hospitals (Timberlawn – Dallas, TX, Forest View Hospital – Grand Rapids, MI, and the National Treatment Center for Trauma Stabilization and Resolution – Torrence, CA) with high levels of reported success. This model was developed as a result of treating patients with high levels of co-morbidity (multiple diagnoses).
One advantage of the model is that it does not require the client to reveal details of traumatic events to the therapist. The client shares what they feel comfortable sharing. It focuses on resolving internal conflicts and cognitive errors which lead to emotional pain. It is not easy, but if you feel that you have been dealing with unresolved trauma for too long, please contact me or set up an appointment.
Eric Leever, M.Ed., LMHC, NCC
1555 NW Saint Lucie West Blvd.
Port St. Lucie, FL 34986
772 284 6030