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Beach Waves

Are past traumas holding you back?

Do you constantly feel on edge, like something could go wrong at any minute?

Do you wear a mask so that others don’t see your struggling?

Do you feel like you’re different to others, that there is something wrong with you, that nobody gets you?

Do you feel stuck, or like there is something bubbling under the surface, but you’re not sure what?

Power Psychology can help you get to the bottom of your struggles. We can support you to overcome past traumas so you can get on with living.

Trauma is an emotional response that occurs when we face distressing or overwhelming experiences that surpass our ability to cope.

What is Trauma? 

What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD occurs in response to a threatening event and has four groups of symptoms:

  • Re-living the event. This can be through nightmares, vivid images, or smells (i.e., flashbacks), which are often reoccurring. There can also be psychological distress and/or a strong physiological reaction when reminded of the event.

  • Avoidance of reminders of the event. The individual will attempt to avoid any thoughts, feelings, activities, people, items that remind them of the event as these typically trigger distress.

  • Changes in mood and thoughts. The individual can develop negative beliefs about themselves, the world, or others (e.g., “I’m not safe”, “others can’t be trusted”). These beliefs can be irritational. Additionally, unhelpful emotions may develop (e.g., guilt, shame, anger) or they may feel flat or numb. The individual may lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.

  • Changes in alertness and reactivity. This can result in sleeping difficulties, poor concentration, irritability, and hypervigilance.

These symptoms should be present for longer than a month and impact a person’s daily functioning.

North Shore Auckland Psychologist | PTSD | Therapy

What is considered a traumatic event?

The word ‘trauma’ is often associated with extreme, life-threatening events (aka big T events). Some examples include physical or sexual abuse, natural disasters, and severe injuries. However, this is not always the case. Trauma is subjective and personal to the individual. Research has shown that less severe events, particularly if repeated over time, can impact us more than extreme events. Smaller trauma events (aka small t events) could include bullying, parental separation, experiences of rejection or neglect, or racism. While these events may not seem as significant as big T events, they can have significant a impact on a person's emotional well-being.

Milford Psychologist | Trauma | PTSD | Therapy
Milford Psychologist | Trauma | PTSD | Therapy
How do people respond to trauma events?

When a person is in extreme psychological or physical pain, our brain’s ability to process events is compromised. The trauma event is not fully processed and instead gets 'frozen' in time. The thoughts, feelings, image, and physical sensations associated with the event are stored in the mind and body as they were experienced at the time of the event. That is why people can feel like they are reliving the event in their present day.

 

Following a traumatic event, it's natural for strong emotional reactions like fear, anger, or sadness to arise. For most people, these feelings gradually subside over time, especially with the support of friends and family. However, for some, the impact of trauma may persist for months or even years, potentially leading to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How can trauma show up in our current life?

Trauma can show up in many ways. Sometimes the onset and effects of trauma are obvious. For example, you are in a car crash (big T event) and in the following days you experience nightmares about the crash, you find yourself being fearful of driving, or experiencing panic when in a car. Basically, you develop PTSD as described above.  

On the other hand, trauma can also be less specific and not directly linked to an identifiable traumatic event. For example, imagine you had an overly critical parent. As a result, you developed a belief “I’m not good enough”. Fast forward twenty years. You’re at work and your manager is giving you feedback on a piece of your work. Despite your manager doing this in a constructive way, you suddenly feel anxious, your heart is racing, and feel the desire to get out of that room. This is likely because their feedback has triggered your belief “I’m not good enough” and suddenly, your mind and body feel like you are that young child being criticized by your parent. This example demonstrates how trauma can affect us in many ways we may have never considered. Typical examples include our self-esteem and confidence, our ability to connect and form relationships with others, or our ability to regulate our emotions.

Milford Psychologist | Trauma | PTSD | Therapy
Milford Psychologist | Trauma | PTSD | Therapy

How can therapy help?

Therapy provides a safe space for you to unpack your experiences and gain greater understanding of the impact they are having on you living the life you want to. At Power Psychology we specialize in EMDR, one of the most effective methods of processing and resolving trauma. You can read more about EMDR here, but put simply, EMDR supports you to process unresolved memories (trauma events) that continue to impact you in your present day. The idea is that once memories are processed, they will no longer intrude in your current day. EMDR is effective in resolving symptoms associated with PTSD.

 

Other therapy modalities are also utilized to teach you practical skills that will help you in the here and now. For example, skills to help regulate your emotions, ways to become more connected and attuned to your body, increase your resilience and confidence, increase your capacity to engage in meaningful relationships.

Milford, Auckland 0620 

admin@powerpsychology.co.nz

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