WHAT TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES ARE
The very notion of trauma is complex and challenging. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can develop in people of all ages who have experienced a traumatic event. PTSD traditionally refers to the repeated intrusions and functional impairment resulting from a traumatic event.
Common symptoms for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder include intrusive thoughts (e.g., repeated thoughts and memories that come out of nowhere and can be experienced as memories, dreams, flashbacks, and feelings of “re-living” the experience) and avoidance of thoughts and feelings associated with the traumatic event, or avoidance of places, people, and situations that remind us of the trauma. A person struggling with PTSD often experiences negative changes in thoughts and feelings, such as feeling disconnected from others and themselves, feelings of hopelessness and numbness, and apathy or difficulty experiencing positive emotions. They often experience changes in physical and emotional reactions, such as feeling easily startled, “on edge,” irritable, and feeling increased guilt or shame. Those experiencing trauma also may struggle with insomnia or poor concentration.
Another type of trauma, Complex Trauma, involves a traumatic event that is typically repeated, may occur over a long period of time, and often occurs or starts in childhood.
Complex Traumatic Events often include exploitation, neglect, or physical or sexual harm (e.g., often given by caregivers or adults responsible for care).
Symptoms following a traumatic experience often co-occur with anxiety and stress, mood disturbance, insomnia/nightmares, and shame. Some individuals develop substance abuse, anger management, or impulsive behavior problems in an attempt to cope with the effects of the traumatic experience.
EVIDENCE BASED TREATMENTS OFFERED
Complex Trauma treatment requires a specialized and multilayered approach. We offer a protocol, DBT-PTSD, which is an empirically-validated treatment designed to treat Complex Trauma in a safe manner.