Counseling for Complex Trauma Disorder in West Hartford, CT
For those who have lived through complex trauma, it can be easy to think that the worst is over, but for many, the difficult part is, unfortunately, still ahead. Processing trauma at any level is difficult. Scientific research shows that trauma changes us physically. It impacts our brains and bodies, and without repair, the wounds left by trauma can become worse. That’s why working with a clinician can have a huge impact. You don’t have to live with the new “normal” after trauma. Instead, you can reclaim your healthy and fulfilling life by working with a knowledgeable clinician to make a positive change.
What is Considered Complex Trauma?
Trauma comes in many forms and it can stem from any difficult, painful, dangerous, or stressful situation that is lived or observed. Many people think of high stress careers like the military and police force when they think of trauma, especially complex trauma, but it can happen to anyone. Trauma can be mental, emotional, or physical. It may be observed (EMTs who repeatedly see injuries, children who observe as a parent who becomes a victim of domestic violence, etc.) or experienced. Complex trauma occurs repeatedly and often over several weeks, months, or years. In most cases, complex trauma also involves the individual experiencing direct, repeated harm.
Complex trauma often occurs during developmental life stages, in childhood and adolescence, which can be extremely detrimental. Making the problem even more complex, the trauma and neglect are actually from the primary care giver in most situations, which can cause lifelong struggles with fear of abandonment. This can lead to serious issues maintaining safe and healthy relationships during all stages of life. Additionally, complex trauma during development may be a contributing factor for the development of borderline personality disorder.
What are the Signs of Complex Trauma?
As clinicians, we understand how people process trauma, and we’re trained to recognize patterns of behavior that indicate complex trauma, but it can be difficult for individuals to recognize these warning signs in themselves. Many people are surprised just how easy it is to convince themselves that they are fine. When this happens, it’s your brain getting to work protecting and healing you the best that it can, but in the case of complex trauma, even the best efforts of our brains to repair themselves often fall short. This can lead to a number of side effects, including:
- Changes in typical behavior – eating too much/too little, sleeping too much/too little, losing interest in favorite activities, etc.
- Difficulty regulating mood or behavior – excessive anger, sadness, happiness, etc. that does not seem to align with the situation.
- Changes in self-image – poor self-esteem, failing to perform self-care, etc.
- Substance use – relying on alcohol and/or drugs to “numb” mental, emotional, or physical pain.
- Suicidal ideation – planning for or attempting to commit suicide.
- Self-harm or self-destructive behaviors – this can mean inflicting direct damage through cutting or other self-harming behaviors or this can look like “thrill seeking” or taking unnecessary risks.
- Isolation – avoiding friends and family, possibly even failing to go to work or fulfill other commitments.
- Guilt – blaming oneself for the behavior of others, taking the blame for perpetrators, etc.
- Distrust – difficulty trusting or bonding with other people.
- Chronic health concerns – many individuals also develop serious physical health issues as a result of the stress on the body as well as poor self-care like lack of sleep, eating poorly, and substance abuse.
How Does Counseling for Complex Trauma Disorder Work?
This might come as a surprise, but counseling for complex trauma disorder is…complex. It involves exploring many facets of behavioral, mental, and emotional health. In most cases, this includes using traditional talk therapy and a number of different counseling techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). These techniques and others are evidence-based and can be used to help individuals address the conscious and subconscious effects of complex trauma and start to lead healthier lives. Counseling for complex trauma involves learning practical skills to cope with the way that complex trauma impacts your daily life as well as processing through the emotional and mental effects.
What do I do Next?
At The Harmony Center for Change, our mission statement is, “embrace beginnings for they are rich in hope and possibilities.” While reaching out to us can be a big change, embracing this new beginning and the possibilities it holds may be just what you need to start leading your healthiest and most fulfilling life. You can call our office, send an email, or complete our request form. Then, we’ll be in touch to get started with the intake process and schedule your first visit.