Counseling and Therapy for Childhood Abuse Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Healing trauma caused by childhood abuse
Your abuse was years ago. Your physical wounds have long ago healed healed, but you’re still avoiding public places, maybe even afraid to grocery shop on your own. You find you don’t trust other people, and find it hard to keep a job. You just hate vanilla ice cream, and get completely nauseous when you smell it, thinking you’ve really lost your mind. It’s also possible that all these reactions have been in your life for decades and you just recently recovered memory of the abuse in a way that makes it seem like it just happened. Now you can’t eat, marijuana and alcohol have become your best friends, and you can’t find a way to dull the pain that you’re feeling either sometimes or all the time.
Here’s what I’d like you to know. What you are experiencing is normal, natural, and common with many victims of childhood sexual abuse and neglect. While the PTSD term grew out of military combat, we know a lot more about trauma and its effect on the body, mind, and spirit than we did when PTSD was first studied. Severe trauma literally changes the way the brain operates, making it difficult to return to “normal” life in all ways – physically, mentally and even spiritually.
Here’s the good news – this isn’t permanent. You can heal, and you can create a life that is filled with purpose, joy, and meaning. It will take support from someone who understands the process, as well as a strong intention on your part. It may take months to years, but that life you long for can be yours.
Steps for Healing Traumatic Stress after Childhood Trauma
- Decide to go on the healing journey – that’s probably what brought you to this page today. It really doesn’t matter if your attack was decades ago; the decision to begin your healing is huge and might be the most courageous step you take. What your healing journey looks like is as unique to you as your fingerprint. The journey will be on your time table, at your speed, with deepest respect for your own inner wisdom about the next right step.
- Find safety – create a plan to assure that while you’re on this journey, you can be safe. No one will ask you to interact with any part of your trauma story until you’re ready. That means, you have alternative ways to get through your day without going to those places that frighten you. Create a life pattern of safety whatever that means to you. If your abuse was recent, we must first provide for physical safety to protect from any further panic attacks.
- Develop skills for self-calming – this will be the first step we’ll take toward your recovery – even before telling your story. Because your mind believes everything you think is real, telling your story will only result in reliving the event which is, itself re-wounding. Until you are able to dependably bring yourself back into the present moment, to calm your heartbeat and breathing, to convince that fight or flight part of you that the lion is not in the room, we will allow your stories to stay quiet, if we can.
- Desensitization – this simply means begin able to tell your story enough that it loses the edge it may have at the beginning. Remember that your brain is being asked to literally rewire, to bring blood to some areas, to deactivate other areas, and to repair any distortion that was done to parts of your brain by the trauma.
- Map your future- Once you have the keys to your life and you are in your own driver seat again, we’ll begin to create that future that is out there waiting for you.
- Create meaning/give back - Some people hold the value of helping and giving to others. If that is an important value for you, as we work to design that future, we can also consider ways that you want to use your strengths and wisdom derived from your healing journey to create meaning for you and to support you to gift others with your new way of being in the world.
How I can help you in your journey….
At the On Purpose Living Center, I offer a large variety of techniques and tools that can support you on your journey toward your future.
- Resources to provide support for PTSD associated with childhood abuse - To support your first step of deciding to go on this healing journey, you’ll find access to videos and ebooks for your friends and family that will help them understand your courage and your struggles. When those around you support the process, your decision to move forward will be easier for you. Secondly, I’ll help you describe specifically what the goal of your journey might look like for you. At this stage, that mostly will look like what you DON’T want to have happening – like no more nightmares, no more panic attacks, no more fear of begin with a group of people. It can also look like getting back to your job, enjoying the family, laughing, and getting out the way you used to. Whatever your healthy idea is, we’ll record that together, as a focus for both of us toward your desired life.
- Self-calming training - The next critical step is to provide self-calming training so that you can manage those panic moments through your own resources. We might also learn the art of becoming “exquisitely physical” as a way to bring your body back from the experience of the childhood abuse, into the present moment, where you are no longer at risk. I also provide general guided meditations to increase self-calming effectiveness as well as meditation created specifically for you as part of your healing journey.
- Energy work - I offer energy work to support returning to the present. As a trained energy body worker, I can help you through a simple process to calm and relax energetically.
- Talk therapy - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - We might use talk therapy to provide space for stories needing to be told once your skills of self-calming are firmly in place. This might also take the shape of looking at the beliefs that you may have internalized through your trauma and I’ll help you explore ways to either reshape new beliefs about the world, about your worth, and about the people that love you. We may look at some at distorted beliefs (such as, all drivers of blue Honda’s are out to get me) or to reshape your experiences into a “street-smart” awareness. Some people call this process CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). I offer several types of strengths assessments to discover what aspects of you we can begin to fold into your recovery and into your future.
- All these taken together will begin to change trigger responses that lead to those panic attacks.
If you have a spiritual practice, I believe that your healing will be complete only when the strengths that you have derived in your past from that practice, becomes part of your healing journey. If prayer is part of your practice, we can use that practice on this journey, too. When you’re ready, we will revisit those spiritual practices to begin to create mission and purpose to move forward. If religion or spirituality isn’t part of your life, we’ll skip it – after all, this is your healing journey, your way.
- Mind mapping - Toward the end of your healing journey, we’ll be able to use a mind-map process to create a plan toward your new life pattern.
- Sometimes, your healing journey may need additional resources, like medicine for sleep or depression. I am not a physician, so I will provide a referral for the needed medication, along with coordination with medical team to chart recovery options
Positive Outcomes: PTSD and Childhood Abuse Case Study
“Dora” was a beautiful full time Mom of three adolescent boys. She had home-schooled the boys because of her distrust of the public school system. She had a long history of illness and was very thin due to her inability to digest most foods. She reported that she had been raped in college, but didn’t think much about that, since it was so many years ago.
Before she began our work together, she arranged for her husband and son to meet me and approve that I am a person to be trusted. Distrust of one’s own judgments is typical of people who have been abused. When her sons became the age of those who had severely abused her sexually when she was a young girl at boarding school, old memories long buried began to surface. We spent many months teaching her to use her self-calming abilities of meditation and yoga while she told her unfolding story. For months, she would recover another lost memory, and suffer again (for the first time in her adult memory) the abuse.
After three years, she was able to tell the stories without pain, was able to do her own grocery shopping, interact with other parents in her home-schooling community, expand the social life that she and her husband began to create and find additional ways to support her family. She discovered that her way of giving back to the community was through her support of abandoned animals which she continues to do as a volunteer. I’m still in awe of her enormous courage to recover, relive, and survive the stories of her childhood abuse and to create a full life for herself.
Learn More about Treatment for PTSD
For more information about working with me to overcome symptoms of PTSD - Contact Me.
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