By Melissa DeGeso-Jones, Psy.D. Licensed Psychologist
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma-related symptoms are often misunderstood. You may have experienced a traumatic event without having any symptoms or you may be symptomatic but no one has ever asked you about the traumatic event. Trauma-informed therapy does ask, “What happened to you?” not “What is wrong with you?”
Trauma-informed therapy focuses on helping you to develop a better understanding for how the strategies used to cope with the trauma were effective in the past are no longer adaptive in the present.
Trauma has no boundaries. It happens to individuals across all ages, genders, socioeconomic statuses, races, religions, and sexual orientations. It can occur in private (e.g., child abuse, domestic violence, rape) or in public (i.e., bullying, community violence, combat). It may be impersonal (e.g., natural disasters, automobile accidents or other serious accidents, life-threatening illnesses) or interpersonal (e.g., physical or sexual abuse/assault, abandonment, neglect, unexpected death or loss of a loved one). It may have only occurred once (i.e., a discrete traumatic event) or repeatedly over a long period of time (i.e., complex trauma).
There is an infliction of powerlessness that is natural within trauma whereby you are forced to accommodate to extreme circumstances. Trauma can overwhelm your capacity to cope and it can make it harder to think rationally. The meanings you assign to the trauma and all things associated with it, contributes significantly to your post traumatic functioning.
Have you or someone you care about ever experienced a traumatic event? After it happened, did you wonder, “why me?”
Did you feel ashamed, humiliated, betrayed?
Did you experienced a sense of guilt or a need for silence afterward?
Did others blame you or did you blame yourself for what happened?
Did you become suspicious of others, mistrusting their intentions or feel the need to always be on guard?
Are you afraid that if you tell someone else what has happened to you they might think you are crazy, lying, or somehow responsible for what happened?
These are some of the common experiences that underlie post traumatic symptoms. To focus treatment only the associated symptoms like inattention, depression, anxiety or relationship problems, never treats the source. If you are interested in learning more about becoming trauma-informed please contact Dr. DeGeso-Jones at Rice Psychology Group.