Are you living with the impacts of a traumatic event or PTSD?
In our work, we talk to clients about trauma being "in the eye of the beholder"; in other words, only you can determine whether something you have experienced was traumatic for you. This word gets tossed around a lot, but "traumatic" really can be used to describe anything that threatens your sense of physical, psychological, or emotional safety. As such, relationships, jobs, witnessing events, etc., can all be traumatic.
Maybe this sounds like you:
"The images and sounds of what happened are on replay..."
"The birth of my first child still haunts me, and I'm not sure that I want to have any more children."
"I can't sleep..."
"I have a hard time trusting people after what happened..."
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
According to the DSM-5, there are four categories of symptoms that are components of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
- 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 enjoyable
- Difficulty remembering details of the distressing event
- Change in habits or behaviour since the trauma
At Illuminate, we specialize in the area of reproductive mental health and maternal mental health. Our clients are typically seeking trauma therapy after experiencing:
- miscarriage or pregnancy loss
- difficult pregnancy
- traumatic labour & delivery / birth trauma
- sexual assault
- domestic violence
- abusive relationships
Trauma is the invisible force that shapes our lives. It shapes the way we live, the way we love and the way we make sense of the world. It is the root of our deepest wounds.
- Dr. Gabor Maté
While some people can heal from trauma over time, especially with the love and support of family & friends, others may find that there are profound lasting effects of trauma, which can cause a person to live with deep emotional pain and fear. Sometimes these residual effects will show up in the form of clinical depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or PTSD. Often, the pain of the experience is deepened if you felt alone or isolated in your feelings, and as such, healing often takes place in the presence of a compassionate witness. This is where therapy can come in.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an approach used in counselling that enables clients to heal from the symptoms & emotional distress that are the result of overwhelming life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy, people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. EMDR therapy shows that just as the body can recover from physical trauma, the mind too can heal from psychological trauma (EMDR Institute)
Trauma is not what happens to you. Trauma is what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you. Trauma is not the event that inflicted the wound. So, the trauma is not the sexual abuse, the trauma is not the war. Trauma is not the abandonment. The trauma is not the inability of your parents to see you for who you were. Trauma is the wound that you sustained as a result.
- Dr. Gabor Maté
Treatments for Healing Trauma
Research has consistently shown psychotherapy to be the most effective form of treatment for trauma. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is the 'gold standard' for treating trauma, as well as somatic or body-based modalities such as Somatic Experiencing which is based on the work of Peter Levine. What all of these approaches have in common is attempting to go beyond thoughts, guiding you to experience safety on the level of the nervous system and connect with other parts of the brain.
If you feel that you are experiencing the impact of trauma symptoms on your life, including your ability to function or maintain positive relationships, we invite you to connect with our trauma therapist Jennifer.
Therapy can help you to:
• Explore the roots of your symptoms. There is power in understanding WHY your body & mind are doing what they’re doing.
• Learn new ways of coping. We’ll examine what you’re already doing to support yourself (you may not be aware of it yet, but there’s always something helpful you’re already doing for yourself). We’ll also explore new tools to add to your “coping toolbox” so that your symptoms don't feel so overwhelming.
• Have your suffering, your trauma, witnessed. We will work with you as a compassionate witness to what happened, what you experienced, and how this has impacted your life. This is an essential part of trauma healing.
• Feel safe again. Trauma disrupts our sense of safety in the world, in our relationships, or in our bodies. We will help support you in building safety so you can start feeling the vitality of life again.