Developmental & Shock Trauma Counseling

Your body keeps the score.

— Bessel Van Der Kolk

Trauma is a fact of life. It reaches far beyond the experience of war, natural disasters, or sexual abuse or assault. Motor vehicle accidents, chronic illnesses, surgical and other non-elective medical/dental procedures, difficult births, being a witness to violence, as well as neglect, and abuse while growing up are all examples of events that could lead to trauma.

Trauma is both a physiological and psychological response to an overwhelming threat. Traumatic symptoms are not caused by a “triggering” event itself. The alarming and debilitating symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — anxiety, depression, rage, destructive behaviors, insomnia, flashbacks, panic attacks — stem from the energy that has been trapped in the nervous system when faced with a situation that appears inescapable or overwhelming. Humans, like animals, involuntarily respond by freezing as a last-ditch effort for survival when fighting or fleeing seems unhelpful or impossible. We play possum just like our animal counterparts.

It is important to emphasize that this is an instinctual response outside of our conscious control. We’ve adopted this response as the best option for survival. It is not a sign of weakness or of failure.

When animals deploy this automatic response, they stand up, shake it off, and move on when the threat recedes. Their bodies release the pent-up energy through shaking. Their nervous systems resume a calm and open state, and they no longer hold onto the threat.

In humans, unfortunately, this natural ability to self-regulate or integrate energy gets hijacked; the unprocessed energy gets stuck in the body, and the incomplete physiological responses become suspended in fear. Even though the conscious mind knows the traumatic event is over, the body and unconscious mind do not. The nervous system gets trapped in a defensive state, either hyper-aroused or hypo-aroused, or in what is called a trauma response.

In those moments, returning to a natural state of calm or relaxation in the body and mind simply needs some help.

There Is Hope

Achieving healing from trauma can be hard, as the pathways to feeling more emotional energy and sensations in the body, once closed off from patterns of trauma, begin to re-open. But this work can happen in a gentle way. This healing is a process and practice of being in the body. It is about increasing the body’s ability to notice and manage stressful experiences so as to begin feeling safe and good again in the body. This is essential to moving from a stuck and scared state to reclaiming your aliveness and living more fully.

As a contemplative psychotherapist working with a somatic-based trauma-informed lens, some of the things I can help you with include:

• Freedom from debilitating symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD

• Developing healthier alternatives to current addictions

• Improved connection and satisfaction in relationships

• Increased sense of trust and confidence in self

• Increased inner peace and wider perspective on life

Sessions can be transformative. We work at change on a basic level of being, on the cellular level. There’s an opportunity to gain a new view of yourself, others, and the world with less hypervigilance and with more trust and courage, to create more room for love and reduce fear. Working together, we bring curiosity and kindness to your experiences to offer a fresh view, where bad things can happen, but they can be overcome. In essence, this transformation returns you to your home, your ground of being, where innate wellness resides, free from habituated reactions rooted in the past and more confident in your life. Call me so we can get started.