shutterstock_408986323-sized.jpgTrauma is an emotional response to an extraordinary and shocking experience that falls outside the realm of normal life. This kind of event or series of events can affect the ability to cope.  It can also lead to feelings of fear, horror or helplessness.  Because trauma affects a person’s sense of safety, it can lead to long-term emotional distress, a sense of numbness or a disconnection from daily life.

Individual Experiences, Individualized Treatments

Not everyone experiences trauma from the same events or in the same way. Factors such as age, previous experiences and the availability of support systems can affect how someone reacts to a traumatic event.  Some people may have only a few short term symptoms and then return to normal. But others experience long-term effects that can impact all areas of their lives. These conditions are called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Acute Stress Disorder (ASD).

PTSD and ASD: Responses to Trauma

Although PTSD is often linked with the experiences of soldiers in combat, it can affect anyone who has been traumatized by frightening and/or life-changing events.  It can also affect those who have witness trauma. Symptoms of PTSD and ASD include reliving the traumatizing events in dreams, flashbacks or intrusive thoughts. People with PTSD also experience distressing physiological reactions when reminded of those events, including insomnia and intense startle responses. They may try to avoid reminders of the events or refuse to talk about them. Other ways to avoid triggering PTSD include emotional numbness, withdrawing or forgetting certain details about the events. Trauma affects not just those who experience the traumatic events, but also their families and other people in their lives. Jobs and relationships can suffer. People with PTSD are also at higher risk for substance abuse and other addictions.  Among war veterans with PTSD, addictions are even more prevalent.


Trauma Therapy Provides Support

Trauma is defined by the experience of the survivor, and that experience may be minimized or dismissed by others who don’t recognize the impact of the traumatic event.  By helping release the feelings of emotional pain that can accompany extraordinary and traumatic events, a therapist specializing in trauma counseling can help those suffering from PTSD and other trauma-related symptoms to learn coping strategies and resume a normal life. 

Dr. Lee Ann Lehman is a family psychologist based in West Palm Beach, Florida whose counseling services include trauma and family therapy counseling.  She offers insight, support and practical tools to help clients overcome the effects of trauma. Dr. Lehman treats PTSD and ASD with therapeutic modalities that include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Feeling State Addiction Protocol Therapy, Image Transformation Therapy (ImTT), relaxation techniques and group therapy.