Trauma Counseling – Therapists and Counselors in Franklin, MA
A soldier who served his country faithful comes home to his wife and young children. His wife often awakens him at night telling him that he thrashes around in bed violently as he sleeps. The ex-soldier knows he is experiencing night terrors with images of horrific acts of violence that he has personally experienced.
A young mother continues to have flashback to a time during her youth when she was sexually assaulted by a family member. Her feelings of resentment and even anger grow daily as her own daughter approaches the age that she was when she was abused.
Stories such as these are very real and occur far too often. People who experience them feel as if they are all alone. However, they are not. They are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
It is estimated that approximately 3.5% of Americans exhibit symptoms of PTSD each year. Nine per cent of people develop signs of PTSD during some period of their lives. Rates of PTSD in the rest of the world range between 0.5% and 1%. This lower estimate may be due to differences in assessment and diagnostic techniques. However, it is also estimated that rates of PTSD are higher in areas of the world that are experiencing war and regular violent conflict.
The effect of trauma on an individual’s mental well-being has been documented since the times of ancient Greece. Mythology illustrate incidents of terrible events and how they affect the mood and behavior of those who experience them. Documented occurrences of PSTD-related symptoms increased during the two World Wars but was called by different phrases such as “shell shock” or “combat neurosis”. The use of the term “posttraumatic stress disorder” began in the 1970s following the return of Vietnam military veterans.
Causes of Trauma
The following is a list of traumatic occurrences and situations that can result in symptoms of PTSD:
- Active military duty in a combat area;
- Physical and/or sexual abuse experienced as an adult or child;
- Surviving a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood, fire, or earthquake;
- Witnessing a violent or another horrific event;
- Living through an automobile or other transportation accident;
- Having a spouse or long-term partner who has been unfaithful;
- Being a victim of bullying as a child;
- Victim of serious injury (e.g., burns, dog attack), major surgery (e.g., heart surgery), or life-threatening illness (e.g., childhood cancer);
- Sudden unexpected or violent death of someone close (e.g., suicide, accident).
Signs and Symptoms
Below are a list of signs and symptoms of PTSD.
Re-experiencing symptoms include:
- Flashbacks—re-living the incident of trauma persistently,
- Recurring physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating breathing or difficulty,
- Recurring nightmares,
- Persistent and uncontrollable fearful thoughts.
These symptoms often create problems in a person’s attempt to live out their everyday lives. Situations, sounds, sights even smells that are reminiscent of the traumatic event can trigger re-experiencing symptoms.
Avoidance symptoms include:
Actively staying away from certain locations or events.
- Often the person themselves do not know why they are avoiding these situations. It is likely that these are setting events to the person’s experience of trauma.
Avoiding seemingly random objects.
- These objects generate thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event.
Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:
- Regularly feeling irritable or being agitated,
- Easy eliciting a startled reflex,
- Difficulty getting to sleep or waking easily,
- Unprovoked, overt angry outbursts.
Cognition and mood symptoms include:
- Difficulty recalling important aspects of the traumatic event or not remembering it at all,
- Poor self-image often with a corresponding negative outlook toward the world,
- Unrealistic sense of guilt and shame,
- No longer interested in previously preferred activities.
Children’s reaction to trauma
Like adults, children’s reaction to trauma can be severe and disruptive to daily functioning. In children under 6 years of age symptoms may include:
- Extreme attachment to a parent or another care giving adult,
- Continued incontinence after toilet training had been previously successful,
- Acting out the trauma event when playing,
- A refusal or apparent inability to speak.
As a child approaches adolescence, symptoms of PTSD become similar to adults. However, there may also be an increase is disruptive, destructive and even aggressive behaviors. Older children and teens are also more prone to feeling guilty or blame themselves for not preventing serious injury or deaths of a loved one.
Treatments and Therapies
The two most used treatments for PTSD are medications, psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), or a combination of both. Since there is a wide range of ways that trauma effects different people, the specific type of treatment that will be effective differs from person to person as well. It is important for individuals showing signs of PTSD that they seek help from a professional trained in effective trauma treatment. It has been shown that the sooner someone seeks treatment the more likely symptoms will decrease and even be eliminated.
There are many types of therapies that have been shown to be helpful in addressing symptoms of PTSD. Certain therapies target the symptoms directly. Others focus on an individual’s ability to function in social, family, or job-related situations. The treating clinician may decide to combine different therapies depending on each person’s needs.
Through psychotherapy and/or the use of medication, an individual can relearn how to address more typical stress associated with everyday living but that have become overwhelming because of trauma. A trained therapist can help an individual develop techniques to reduce anxiety often associated with trauma as well as functional skills that can be helpful in restoring one’s efficacy performing daily routines.
Here are some specific techniques that have been proven to be effective.
- Educate the person suffering from trauma about symptoms and their effects,
- Teach effective coping skills such as relaxation exercises, guided imagery and anger-management techniques,
- Provide guidance on how to improve sleep, diet, exercise habits and other ways to improve the body’s ability to handle stress,
- Train people to identify and address guilt, self-blame, and other feelings that are associated with trauma.
Get Help Now
If you or someone you love are experiencing the effects of a traumatic event that is getting in the way of going through a regular daily routine, a therapist at Thriveworks-Franklin can be a great help. Professionals at Thriveworks-Franklin are skilled at both assessing and treating symptoms of trauma. The will also identify and use the treatment that is right for you.
So, call Thriveworks today at 617-360-7210. Thriveworks-Franklin counselors are leaders in their field, ready to work with you. There is no need to continue your search for answers to your problems. The counselors at Thriveworks are ready to partner with you to improve your life. Why delay any longer? Call now.
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. pp. 271–280.
Bisson, JI; Cosgrove, S; Lewis, C; Robert, NP (26 November 2015). “Post-traumatic stress disorder”. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). 351
Carlstedt, Roland (2009). Handbook of Integrative Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry, and Behavioral Medicine Perspectives, Practices, and Research. New York: Springer Pub. Co. p. 353.
Herman, Judith (2015). Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. Basic Books. p. 9.
Klykylo, William M. (2012). Clinical child psychiatry (3. ed.). Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons. p. Chapter 15.