Trauma

The word “trauma” refers to a profoundly negative experience that overwhelms an individual’s normal coping mechanisms.   A traumatic event typically involves a threat to one’s life or bodily integrity.  Although traumatic events take many forms, they all induce feelings of intense fear, helplessness, and  loss of control.  The survivor feels emotionally, cognitively, and physically overwhelmed.

 The range of potential traumatic experiences is broad.  It includes powerful one-time incidents like accidents, natural disasters, crimes, surgeries, deaths, and other violent events. It also includes chronic or repetitive experiences such as child abuse, neglect, combat, urban violence, concentration camps, violent relationships, and deprivation. The definition of trauma intentionally does not allow an observer to determine whether a particular event is traumatic; that is up to the person who experienced the event.   In other words, trauma is defined by the experience of the survivor.  Two people could survive the same negative event and other person may be severely traumatized while the other is relatively unaffected.

Effects of Trauma

In the days or months following a traumatic event, survivors may find themselves experiencing nightmares, intrusive memories of the trauma, or even flashbacks in which it feels as if the trauma is happening again.  These experiences are known as re-experiencing symptoms.  Survivors may also find themselves engaging in avoidance behaviors, such as avoiding places, people, memories, and or/situations that remind them of the event.  Survivors may find themselves unable to remember an important aspect of the traumatic event.  Traumatized people may experience chronic and persistent negative emotions such as guilt, shame, anger, or fear.  They may experience diminished interest in people and activities, and they may feel unable to have positive emotions.   Finally, trauma survivors may notice significant changes in their levels of physiological arousal; they may be extremely irritable or have angry outbursts with minimal or no provocation, they may engage in impulsive, high risk behavior, they may be hypervigilant, they may have an exaggerated startle response, and they may experience significant disruption to sleep and/or concentration. 

Strategies for Coping with Trauma

  • Give yourself time to adjust.  Be patient and kind with yourself.
  • Stick to your daily routine.
  • Reach out to your support system.
  • Talk about your experience with an empathic person.
  • Engage in intense physical activity such as jogging or biking
  • Engage in relaxation activities such as yoga, guided meditation, or progressive deep muscle relaxation
  • Use prayer, if this activity is part of your personal spirituality.
  • Take a hot bath or shower.
  • Listen to music or create art.
  • Maintain a balanced diet and get enough sleep.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, sugar, and nicotine.
  • Hug people you love, including pets.
  • Engage in proactive social activities such as community organizing around a particular cause.
  • Journal about your experience.
  • Avoid alcohol and substances – they can worsen trauma symptoms.
  • See a counselor or join a support group.

 Online Resources

National Institute of Mental Health:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

Sidran Institute – Traumatic Stress Education and Advocacy:

https://www.sidran.org/

National Center for PTSD:

http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

Veterans Crisis Line:

http://www.veteranscrisisline.net

General Information about PTSD:

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/post-traumatic-stress-disorder.htm

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

CAPS Clinical Services for Trauma Survivors

Alysha Warren, LPC

Alysha is trained in Somatic Experiencing.  SE is a psychobiological method for addressing physical and emotional trauma, PTSD, and stress-related conditions.  The SE approach releases trauma shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.

Alysha has been trained in Substance Abuse and Men’s Trauma Recovery and Empowerment (SA-M-TREM).  This is a psychoeducational and skills-oriented 24 session group treatment program that focuses on male trauma survivors who use substances to self-medicate.

Alysha has been trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).  This is a conjoint child and parent psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events.  It is a components-based treatment model that incorporates trauma-sensitive interventions with cognitive behavioral, family, and humanistic principles and techniques.

Alysha is working on completing her graduate certificate in professional studies in working with survivors of violence, torture, and trauma (VTT). 

Jennifer D’Andrea, Ph.D.

Dr. D’Andrea is trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT).  Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is an evidenced-based manualized treatment that has been found effective for the treatment of PTSD and other trauma-related symptoms.  It focuses on how the traumatic event is construed and coped with by a person who is trying to regain a sense of mastery and control in his or her life.

Amber Jones, LCSW

Amber has been trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).  This is a conjoint child and parent psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events.  It is a components-based treatment model that incorporates trauma-sensitive interventions with cognitive behavioral, family, and humanistic principles and techniques.

Smith Kidkarndee, Psy.D.

Dr. Kidkarndee is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).   This is a conjoint child and parent psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events.  It is a components-based treatment model that incorporates trauma-sensitive interventions with cognitive behavioral, family, and humanistic principles and techniques.

Dr. Kidkarndee is also trained in Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE).  PE is an evidence-based treatment designed to help trauma survivors emotionally process their traumatic experiences.  Doing this reduces PTSD and other trauma-related symptoms.  PE is rooted in the emotional processing theory of PTSD.

Lisa Miceli, Ph.D.

Dr. Miceli is trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT).  Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is an evidenced-based manualized treatment  that has been found effective for the treatment of PTSD and other trauma-related symptoms.  It focuses on how the traumatic event is construed and coped with by a person who is trying to regain a sense of mastery and control in his or her life.