Are you struggling with the after effects of trauma? Do you often feel either anxious and on edge or lethargic and foggy? Perhaps you vacillate between the two. Are you experiencing physical discomforts such as insomnia, digestion problems, a racing heartbeat or tingling in your arms or legs? Maybe the trauma has left you struggling to connect with or trust others, which is impacting your relationships. Or perhaps you feel unable to use your voice, set and maintain healthy boundaries or properly care for yourself. Do you often feel shame and guilt or suffer from self-doubt and low self-esteem? Have you turned to drugs or alcohol to numb out or cope with stress and pain? Have you tried talk therapy in the past, but still feel consumed with uncertainty, fear, or feelings of depression or anxiety? Do you wish you could find a way to process trauma, work through anxious, heavy feelings and feel balanced, calm and able to handle your world?

Dealing with the after effects of trauma can be an isolating, confusing and even seemingly helpless experience. You may feel unmotivated or lethargic one moment, only to feel highly charged and emotionally heightened the next. It may feel difficult to connect with people in your life, especially if you often feel irritable or isolated. Maybe it seems that your loved ones don’t understand what you’re going through. Furthermore, intrusive thoughts, memories of the trauma or anxious feelings might make it hard to stay present with the people around you and focus on tasks at hand. Work, relationship, family life and self-esteem issues may have you feeling overwhelmed and unsure if relief is possible. You may have adapted coping strategies, such as withdrawal, substance abuse, or avoidance that help you to keep the trauma at bay, but are otherwise harmful to you and maybe to others.

Trauma Is Extremely Common In Our Culture

Trauma occurs every day, and very few of us make it through life without being affected by a situation or event that causes us to question our safety and general wellbeing. Some people experience developmental trauma in childhood through abuse or neglect. Growing up in volatile environments, where parents were unavailable or harsh, can impact our ability to feel secure in adult relationships, set and maintain healthy boundaries and have a solid sense of self.

People also experience situational trauma through significant events, such as accidents, combat, sexual assaults and natural disasters, which can lead to persistent feelings of fear and unsafety. And, whether developmental or situational, ongoing or unresolved trauma can lead to complex trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trauma also comes in smaller, less dramatic forms. Incidents like a parents’ divorce or falling off a bike can create trauma. Trauma affects everyone differently, and what is highly traumatic for one person may not impact another as severely. Essentially, trauma is tied to perception and generally occurs following a threatening situation that happened suddenly, in which we felt overwhelmed and helpless to protect others or ourselves. In my practice, the most common situation is one in which a client has experienced ongoing traumas over months or years. 

The good news is that trauma-informed therapy has been proven to be highly effective. With the right approach, the help and support of an experienced and compassionate trauma therapist and a willingness to collaborate and build strength, it is possible for you to heal from trauma and experience more calm, balance and joy in your life. Please see the link to Trauma-Informed Therapy for a more in-depth discussion of how I use trauma-informed therapy with those in need. 

I’m afraid that I’ll have to talk about the traumatic experience and, in doing so, I’ll feel even worse.In trauma therapy sessions, you do not have to share the details of your trauma—unless you decide to. We do not need a storyline for this work to be successful. The work is body-based, thus releasing trauma from the body where it is stored. We’ll also take sessions at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

I’ve heard that treatment for trauma is expensive and can take a long time.I strongly encourage you to consider trauma therapy as an investment in your current and future wellbeing. The after effects of trauma can impact every aspect of life, and trauma—especially PTSD— is unlikely to resolve on its own. The length of time spent in therapy truly depends on the severity of the trauma and how open and willing you are to engage in the healing process. If money is an issue, we can discuss how to make sessions affordable for you. Healing is possible, and you can have a balanced, productive and healthy life.

I tried therapy in the past and it didn’t help. How will working with you be different?I believe that we all have the innate capacity to heal and that there are many paths to healing. Healing from trauma is a unique experience, and feeling safe with your trauma therapist is a key piece of the healing process. With trauma, you also need an approach that does not threaten your sense of safety and stability. You will find that in our work with trauma, I do not require that anyone explore memories that they do not wish to explore. I do ask that we work together to find ways to reframe how you cope with stressors now, and how you can let go of the ways you had to cope during past traumas.

You don’t have to navigate this challenging time on your own. If you are in Rappahannock County, VA, or the surrounding area, please call me at 540-675-1195 to schedule a free 30-minute initial consultation. I’m happy to discuss your specific needs and situation and answer any questions you have about trauma therapy as well as the other domains we might explore.

I customize a therapeutic approach that best supports and addresses each of my client’s specific history, personality, needs and therapy goals. With this support and guidance, the right approach for you and a willingness to engage with curiosity and a commitment to the therapy process, I can help you develop capacity to enjoy your life rather than endure it.

Ann Baumgardner