Have you had a frightening experience that changed your view of yourself, other people, and the world? Perhaps a particular episode, series of events, or ongoing exposure to abuse, oppression, and/or violence has made it difficult for you to trust anyone. You may be struggling with signs of trauma, such as difficulties sleeping; frequent and distressing nightmares; night sweats; flashbacks; avoiding people, places, or activities that remind you of the traumatic experience; feeling anxious and super alert all the time; and negative physical sensations that you don’t fully understand. Or, perhaps you specifically remember what happened but don’t know why it’s still haunting you. Sometimes, it may seem as though the danger is right in front of you, and the world is closing in. Do you ache for the person you used to be before you encountered cruelty and pain, and wish you could find that old self again? Do you long to move confidently through the world with a sense of peace and safety?
Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect all types of people, from all walks of life—veterans, professionals, executives, housewives, immigrants, and more. Your life may feel divided into two parts—the naïve, innocent “before” and the fearful, wounded “after.” Perhaps your life looks desirable on the outside, but to you, it feels like you’re carrying a shameful secret that eats you up on the inside and keeps you from moving forward with a rightful sense of security. If talking about trauma is taboo in your culture or community, you may withdraw socially, blame yourself for what happened, or mistakenly think that you’re weak for not being able to “get over it.” Most of all, you might feel isolated and alone. No matter how hard you try to suppress unwanted feelings and sensations, they might just keep bubbling to the surface.
Trauma Is Very Common—And It’s Not Your Fault!
Here in Beverly Hills, it can seem as though everyone has it together. We fear that here, more than anywhere else, emotional struggles can be construed as a sign of weakness. But, what we see on the outside never shows the full story. No matter how isolated and alone you may have been feeling since that absolutely horrible thing happened to you, in truth, you are not alone!
Traumatic events and experiences take many forms. For example, you may be an immigrant who witnessed war and violence in your home country, only to face racism and bigotry here in the United States. Or, perhaps you’re a veteran who experienced and witnessed not only combat violence, but also harassment and abuse within your unit, further disrupting your sense of safety and order. It’s also possible to experience trauma following a single distressing incident, such as a bombing, a car accident, a natural disaster, or an assault. Or, perhaps you have suffered from childhood abuse or neglect, domestic abuse, and/or gender-based oppression. If few people around you have acknowledged those behaviors as harmful, you may have come to believe that that’s just the way things are, that it’s acceptable, or that somehow you caused it or “asked for it.” These examples of ongoing exposure to mental and physical violence can make it difficult to harbor a sense of confidence in yourself or cultivate trusting relationships with others and the world you live in. Your world starts to shrink.
Regardless of your particular trauma, you didn’t ask for or deserve this. Although we can’t change the past or return to life as it was before, with self-compassion, you can create a brighter, fuller vision of the life that lies ahead. With help, it is possible to process the traumatic experience, make sense of what happened, and reduce its power over you.
Trauma Therapy Can Help You Heal
The human brain is like a room full of filing cabinets. A traumatic memory is like a crumpled piece of paper that doesn’t fit in a file like all other past events (or episodic memories) do. Instead, it keeps popping out again and again and prevents us from closing that filing cabinet. Therapy aims to help you smooth out that piece of paper so you can file it away like any other event that happened in the past and move on with your life. It will still remain a horrible, terrible thing that happened in the past, but it will no longer interfere with your normal daily functioning. Most importantly, you can open or close it at your will, rather than the other way around.
Research has shown that trauma therapy can be highly effective for most people who commit to the process. We are nonjudgmental, engaged, and experienced trauma specialists dedicated to helping you heal and reclaim your life. As we work together, you can reduce the intensity and frequency of nightmares and panic, better understand what happened, and feel empowered to move forward.
Because every person’s experience of trauma is different, we adapt our approach to your individual needs as they change from session to session. First and foremost, we work to establish a sense of safety and trust in the therapy room. We are here to offer the help you need, without judgment, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers. Instead, we will collaborate with you as a team, helping you establish the coping skills you need to reduce your emotional distress, gain an understanding of what it all means in the bigger context of who you are and what you want in life, and reclaim your power and autonomy.
During sessions, we will always be 100 percent present with you, listening and attuning to your needs. As appropriate, we may be warm and soft, providing a safe holding space where you can be vulnerable and open when you need to. We may offer observations that help you identify stuck-points. We may also recommend strategies to help you through the stuck-points. Drawing from cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing thoughts and behaviors that no longer serve us, we may encourage you to look at your present experience from a different perspective. We sometimes recommend ways for you to engage with the world, which may require you to utilize some of your existing skills and resources or learn new helpful skills and discover new resources. Throughout our work together, we will check in to determine what’s working and what you’d like to change or try.
In our decades of work as clinical psychologists, we have helped people process and recover from a wide range of traumas. No matter what particular trauma you have endured, please know that healing after trauma is possible. You are not alone.
You may have questions or concerns about overcoming PTSD and trauma…
You can’t erase the memory of what happened, so what’s the point of therapy?
Although no one can erase the past, you can reduce its influence over you now. Also, while your memories may feel extremely painful, they don’t have to remain that way. With help, the memories can become just that—memories of something bad that happened long ago. Your past trauma can stop defining your present and future, and you can emerge as a stronger, more resilient you.
Talking about what happened won’t make it better.
The bad thing that happened to you will never be good. We don’t intend to make you feel like your experience of trauma was positive. However, we can help you figure out why this negative experience holds such a strong grip on you and impedes your growth and happiness. As you come to better understand your experience and put it in its rightful context, you can see that it no longer shapes your view of yourself, other people, or the world. It is possible to process what happened and put it where it belongs—in the past.
I’m too embarrassed to go to trauma therapy. Why can’t I just get over this on my own?
Many people fear their struggle with trauma means something is wrong with them, especially if others around them went through something similar but seem to have “gotten over it” just fine. No two people experience the same event the same way, just as no two people experience trauma the same way. There is nothing wrong with seeking help, and therapy can help you let go of the belief that you are weak or unworthy of help. You can begin to believe that you are deserving of safety, warmth, and kindness. You deserve to reclaim your life!
There Is A Way Forward
We urge and encourage you to start the process of healing after trauma. We will be with you every step of the way and together we can free you from this pain.
Please click “Contact” so we can find out if we can be of assistance to you. You can ask any questions you may have about trauma therapy and our practice in Beverly Hills, CA.