PTSD Signs, Symptoms, and When to Seek Help

Uncategorized Feb 08, 2023

By Sarah C. Smith-Trawick, LCSW-C 

EMDRIA Approved Consultant


Have you noticed how trauma seems to be everywhere these days?

By now, most clinicians are familiar with “Big T” traumas such as a car accident, an assault, a natural disaster, or even the death of a significant person in your life.

Are you familiar with “Small t” traumas which could include the loss of a job, a divorce, or infidelity in a romantic relationship?

Traumatic events can also include other persistent adverse experiences including poverty, neglect, community or household violence, and growing up in a home where a caregiver suffers from mental health challenges or substance abuse. We each have our own unique ways of responding to events that overwhelm our system. These events (or series of events) can sometimes alter our worldview and our view of ourselves. What is traumatic to one person may not be considered traumatic to another person. Additionally, while we all might experience...

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Borderline Personality Disorder and Trauma

Uncategorized Jan 06, 2023

By Jamie Sedgwick, LCPC, NCC
EMDRIA Approved Consultant


Increased access to social media in recent years has meant more access to information about mental health and various diagnoses. There are pros and cons to the increased exposure, with one of the biggest drawbacks being no quality control to verify the accuracy of the information being shared. Individuals hoping to better understand themselves or a loved one may receive inaccurate or biased information.

One mental health diagnosis that has garnered a lot of social media attention is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This is a diagnosis that has carried a negative connotation even among medical professionals. Some even believe this diagnosis cannot be cured. As a result, many clinicians will refuse to treat BPD and attempt to refer those who have it to other clinicians.

As a clinician specializing in this disorder, I have seen a significant increase in the amount of individuals self-diagnosing and seeking treatment. Due to...

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Three Ways Emotional Trauma Changes the Brain

Uncategorized Dec 14, 2022

By: Katie Honeywell, LPCMH, NCC


How does the brain change with trauma? The word “trauma” is becoming more familiar to the general population. Many people recognize the psychological impact of being in physical danger or witnessing someone being in danger. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition defines trauma in relationship to a near-death experience of oneself or a loved one (2013). However, you will hear the echoes from trauma therapists, that the existence of trauma is less about the content of the experience and more about the process of the nervous system. In other words, if the nervous system is overwhelmed, then it is trauma.

Let’s highlight a few examples of events that at face value may not seem life-threatening, but can be traumatic. Humans see the world through an individualized lens based on what we have experienced and learned thus far in life. We can look at Maslow's Hierarchy of needs for some guidance on threats of...

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Five Signs of Untreated Childhood Trauma

Uncategorized Nov 28, 2022

By Katie Honeywell, LPCMH, NCC


Do you have personality traits that you or others in your life feel strongly about? Most of us do. Chances are these traits have been with you for a long time. They can be signs of untreated trauma. One way I can spot childhood trauma in adults is where these traits fall in our nervous system and how it shows up day to day.

Have you heard of polyvagal theory developed by Stephen Porges (2011)? The pieces from polyvagal theory important for learning here are the three areas of the nervous system. The sympathetic system is one, and it activates hyperarousal states of fight or flight behaviors. The dorsal vagal system shuts the body down into a hypoarousal freeze response as it realizes there are very few options for survival and attempts to conserve energy. Polyvagal theory adds our social engagement system, which is a mixture of activation and calming. The social engagement system is where people feel safe, connected, and ready to experience the world....

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The Top 3 Traits a Trauma Specialist Should Have

Uncategorized Oct 25, 2022

By Jamie Sedgwick, LCPC, NCC

EMDRIA Approved Consultant


Five years ago, I made the decision to get trained in EMDR therapy as a way to treat PTSD as a certified trauma specialist effectively. When I signed up for EMDR training, I viewed it as a potential tool to add to my therapist toolbox that I could pull out when needed. Instead, I received training in a modality that completely changed my treatment approach regardless of the diagnosis. 

As an EMDR therapist that works primarily with complex trauma, I have learned to conceptualize my role as the therapist in a very different way than I had previously. I am no longer expected to have all the answers or be the expert. However, this does not mean how I show up in the therapeutic relationship has lost value. I have come to realize there are three trauma specialist traits that every trauma specialist should bring to the therapeutic relationship. 

Unconditional Positive Regard

Unconditional positive regard, the acceptance,...

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What are the Top Causes of Emotional Trauma?

Uncategorized Sep 22, 2022

By Sarah Martin, LCPC, NCC

Trauma is everywhere, and with everything going on in the world today, we cannot ignore its presence. No one is immune to the impact of trauma. So what exactly do we mean when we say the word trauma? I often refer to Bessel van der Kolk’s definition of trauma as “an event that overwhelms the central nervous system, altering the way we process and recall memories.” What I like about this definition is that it opens the door to so many experiences, big and small. As an EMDR therapist, I have found that the small events or “little t” traumas can often be the most pervasive and deeply emotional. 

Emotional trauma can be caused by any event or experience that disrupts our sense of safety and security, often leaving us feeling helpless. The top causes of emotional trauma are verbal or emotional abuse, physical or sexual abuse, childhood neglect, spiritual or religious abuse, an accident or natural disaster, witnessing domestic...

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What is EMDR Therapy?

Uncategorized Aug 25, 2022

By Jamie Sedgwick, LCPC, NCC

EMDRIA Approved Consultant


 The therapy world seems full of abbreviations for various treatment modalities: CBT, DBT, ACT, IFS…. The list can go on and begin to feel a bit like sorting through alphabet soup. With Prince Harry's and other celebrities' help, another therapy abbreviation has been growing in popularity: EMDR, which is short for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.” EMDR has been catching the attention of clients and clinicians, and, like the other alphabet-soup therapies, many are wondering: What is EMDR therapy?

A Little History

EMDR was created in 1987 by Francine Shapiro, who was a doctoral student at the time. The idea to begin exploring the link between eye movements and desensitizing distressing material came to her one day on a walk (Shapiro, 2018). Francine realized that the distressing material she was thinking about became less and less uncomfortable as she walked. She also noticed that her eyes...

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Why Trauma Specialists Should Consider More Training

Uncategorized Jul 21, 2022
 

By Rachel Harrison, LCPC

EMDRIA Approved Basic Trainer and Consultant


 Almost weekly, I have a conversation with a therapist that goes something like this:

Me: I am so glad to hear you treat trauma. I’d love to learn more about your approach!

Therapist: Well, you know, as we are working in session, my clients talk through their traumas and we find new insights.

Me: Oh, okay, I was hoping to find therapists that use modalities other than talk therapy.

What I am thinking and want to say is, “Wrong answer!” We know trauma is stored in the limbic brain, so we need a method other than talk therapy to access the trauma.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love therapy, and I love therapists! I believe all therapists do the best work they know how to do with their clients. But that’s just it: you can’t know what you don’t know.

The bottom line is talk therapy does not work to treat trauma. Trauma is stored in a different area of the...

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