8700 Manchaca Road, Suite 306, Austin, TX 78748

Trauma and PTSD

Trauma-Therapy-Austin-TexasTrauma Can Be Large and Public

October 16, 1991: A man drove a pickup truck through the front window of a Luby’s restaurant in Killeen, Texas and proceeded to shoot 43 people before taking his own life.

May 27, 1997: At about 3:30 in the afternoon an F5 tornado struck Jarrell, Texas, blowing houses off their foundations, killing 27 people and destroying a large part of the town.

September 11, 2001: Our country was attacked by terrorists who crashed commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

Trauma Can Also Be Personal

  • It was a rainy day when Maria’s car was hit by another car that skidded out of control on a rural road and hit her head on. When she came to, her husband Jose was pinned inside the car, bleeding critically. She watched Jose take his last breath, not even able to get close enough to hold his hand.
  • Jarrod couldn’t believe it was happening to him; others get robbed, not him. But there was a gun in his face, and the man with the ski mask was yelling and then hit him in the head. Jarrod really thought he was going to die and that the man was going to shoot him so there would be no witnesses.
  • Luanna was walking to her car after her class on campus. It wasn’t that late, but it was dark. She didn’t see the person who came up behind her as she unlocked her car. He held a knife to her neck and she could feel that a cut was beginning to form. As she was bleeding, he whispered in her ear to not scream and get in the car or he would cut her neck open. The rest was a nightmare as he raped her in the car.

Trauma can also occur as the result of physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, witnessing or discovering a suicide, seeing a horrific event or being involved in a life threatening situation.

How Trauma Impacts Us

Trauma is the result of a horrific event that intrudes on your life without warning. Life will never be the same and feelings of safety and security seem to be gone forever. While the event itself is over, the experience can become imprinted within your mind:

  • Luanna could still smell the man’s breath, hear his angry voice, see the look in his eyes and feel his violent rips at her clothes and grips on her body. She couldn’t even allow her boyfriend to get close enough to provide a comforting hug. The rape examination was even more intrusive, painful and humiliating. She didn’t want to even see her car or leave her house. It felt like everyone knew and was looking at her.
  • Jarrod felt angry all the time. How could he let someone catch him off guard and get the better of him? He found himself getting upset at the smallest things and yelling at his children. He seemed to be looking over his shoulder all the time, overreacting to sounds that startled him and wouldn’t let anyone in the family go out alone.
  • Maria could not get the picture of Jose being pinned in the car out of her mind. She saw it when she closed her eyes and had nightmares when she was able to drift off to sleep for short times. She could hear him gasping for air as he took his last breath. The sight of blood was everywhere; anything red brought it back to her mind and she constantly felt like it was still all over her arms and hands. There were also times when she felt paralyzed and couldn’t move, reminding her of the helplessness she felt in the car when she could not reach Jose to touch him.

These symptoms are common to combat veterans living in environments of constant danger. They might frequently see and hear gunfire and explosions, witness friends die or become badly wounded themselves. This often leads to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), whose symptoms include depression, suicidal thoughts, difficulty experiencing happiness or love, flashbacks, avoiding reminders of the event and difficulty remembering what happened.

PTSD-Treatment-Austin-TexasHelp for Traumatic Stress and PTSD

The definition of trauma includes the idea of a “wound.” When you are wounded physically, especially when it is extensive, you are treated in a trauma center of a hospital. In the trauma center, you will never hear a friend or doctor say “you just have to get up and get over this.” Nor do you hear a person with a compound fracture say, “I don’t need this. Just give me some time and I’ll get over it.”

In the same way, psychological wounds from trauma need special treatment from a trained professional with experience dealing with traumatic stress and PTSD. I have helped people recover from more than 60 different traumatic events, including a hostage situation, robberies, public suicide, accidental and traumatic deaths, natural disasters and witnessing horrific sights. I understand how the mind and body interact when you experience traumatic stress and PTSD, why the symptoms occur and the methods of treatment needed to help heal the trauma.

Healing Automatic Responses

The “fight or flight” response within the body allows you to respond appropriately to stress and danger. However, when you experience trauma this response can become overloaded to the point of exaggeration. Through PTSD and trauma counceling, I can teach you ways to better manage feelings of dread, worry and fear both in and outside of the counseling office. I use mindfulness, relaxation and hypnosis to promote feelings of wellbeing and to provide a means of calming yourself when experiencing stressful triggers.

Cognitive Restructuring

Trauma affects hormones the body releases. As a result, people who’ve experienced trauma often have distorted perceptions and irrational fears about the event. In trauma counseling I can help you identify distorted beliefs, what led to them and purposefully develop more appropriate statements about the event. When you revise distorted beliefs and self-statements you can begin to see the event from a different perspective, regain some control and start living more productively.

Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

When a trauma occurs, the sights, smells and sounds surrounding the event can become locked in the brain. It is believed that rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM) helps you to process events and integrate them into your overall life experience. After a trauma people often have nightmares or insomnia, perhaps because the traumatic event has become locked in the conscious and unconscious mind, thereby diminishing body’s capacity to process the event. However, through the use of EMDR I can help you jumpstart the processing of the event so that your body and mind can respond more appropriately and decrease the intensity of the memory. EMDR is now recognized as one of the most effective treatments in trauma counseling and for PTSD.

Trauma Counseling Can Help

Trauma counseling can help you deal with extreme stress reactions. With the help of trauma counseling, you can understand how stress and grief intensify one another and make everyday life more difficult. For trauma counseling to work you need to have confidence in me as your counselor. Please feel free to ask me a question regarding trauma counseling via email, call me at 512-468-2365 for a free 15-minute consultation or set an appointment on my calendar.

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8700 Manchaca Road, Suite 306, Austin  78748

512-468-2365

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