There are many therapists who specialize in therapy for PTSD.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, you can find pages and pages of results on Google searches for therapists who identify as trauma specialists.  How do you choose the right person for you? This is a personal decision and needs to be based on what connection and fit you feel with your therapist.  Here is some basic information that can be helpful:

  • Your relationship with your therapist is a very important part of the healing process.  You need to be able to feel good with him/her and also be able to say when something doesn’t feel right.  You need to feel that you have choices and that the therapist will try their best to understand you.
  • No relationship is perfect.  Your therapist will make mistakes, and it is in the repair of these errors that much healing can occur.  It is very important to try and discuss difficulties before giving up.  If you do decide to find another therapist, it can help a great deal to try to understand what went wrong in the previous therapy.
  • Therapy is a collaboration and there are responsibilities on both sides of the relationship.  This means being as honest as you can and discussing self harm and what to do about it if that is an issue for you.
  • There are many techniques for healing trauma and more are getting launched all the time.  There is so much research happening about the brain and how it heals.  You may have heard or read about a technique that you really want to try such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization) or a somatic therapy like focusing. The techniques I use primarily are EMDR, Focusing, Writing for Healing (which can include some art therapy), Restorative Yoga, and Relaxation. With complicated trauma, I use specialized techniques that make EMDR more manageable and help to avoid flooding. I also use Ego State Therapy and guided imagery. Other techniques for healing trauma include art therapy, mindfulness, somatic experiencing, massage (this one is done with a massage therapist), types of energy therapies like EFT, neurofeedback, and meditation.  And of course you would need a physician for physical issues that you are dealing with.  If you are afraid of the doctor, therapy can help you address this. Many people also use alternative medicine such as homeopathy or acupuncture.

Help is available. It is important to use your intuition and pay attention to how you feel when choosing someone to help you heal from trauma. Please see my About Me page for more information on my approach. If you are interested in getting more information and to find out how I work, for a free telephone consultation, or to set up an appointment, you can reach me at 415-273-1036.

What is PTSD?

Traumatic experiences are  overwhelming events or series of overwhelming events in your life such as a crime, an accident, witnessing a crime or an accident, child abuse. Traumatic stress can also be caused by anything that leaves you feeling overwhelmed, alone, or helpless in the face of danger. Sometimes it is the unexpected nature of the event, or the fact that someone was intentionally cruel or abusive, physically or emotionally. Sometimes it can happen after an intrusive medical procedure. The more you have experienced, the more complicated your reaction to trauma can be.

The legacy hallmark for someone who has experienced trauma is feeling unsafe in the world. Post traumatic stress happens when you are so impacted by the stress, the past feels like the present.

This can be:

  • lack of safety internally, a lack of trust for your own feelings, thoughts, ideas.
  • lack of safety with other people, difficulty trusting others and fear of betrayal.
  • lack of safety in the world, fears about activities that many people take for granted.
  • A desire to isolate or stay away from people.

The other hallmarks of PTSD are:

  • Reexperiencing the event through flashbacks, nightmares.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Avoiding people, places, and activities that trigger thoughts or memories of what happened.
  • Hyperarousal, such as anxiety, edginess, or anger.
  • Depression or negativity.
  • Numbness, disconnectedness.
  • Insomnia, elevated startle response, racing heart, tiredness, difficulty concentrating.
  • Subsequent addictive behaviors such as drinking, drugs, shopping, gambling, sex, as a way to numb and distract from the pain.

Most of us will experience traumatic events in our lives.  What causes the advent of Post Traumatic Stress?  This can be connected to having too little support, being isolated, having a history of early childhood physical or sexual abuse or neglect, getting bullied as a child or teen, having or having had a serious or life threatening illness.  Sometimes we don’t know why some people are more impacted.  We do know that cultivating resilience and building up the ability to attach to others are very helpful in recovery.

It is important not to blame yourself for this problem!  Your reactions are normal because what happened to you is not normal.  In addition, traumatic experiences cause a loss of basic safety and security, so you are likely to be going through an important grief process which is also normal. Healing from trauma and child abuse is possible!