Trauma Healing with Han Bertrand
Empathy, Understanding, Connection – Your Journey Begins Here.
Trauma doesn't just disappear. It leaves imprints on the heart, shadows in the mind, and echoes in the soul. But with understanding and empathy, we can navigate this journey together, finding healing in the midst of pain.
The wounds of our younger years can deeply impact our adult lives. Together, we can explore and process those early experiences, allowing for understanding and growth.
Trauma with Parents
Our earliest relationships shape so much of who we become. Let's uncover and address the pain that lingers, setting you on a path to healing.
When the world makes you feel out of place, it can scar the soul. I'm here to help you process those feelings, find your space, and celebrate who you truly are.
Multiple traumas over time can intertwine and complicate our healing journey. But with patience, empathy, and understanding, we can navigate this complex web and find a way out.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is not just an event; it's the shadow it casts on the soul. It's the moments of deep silence, the reactions that seem out of place, the lingering sadness in the eyes, and the walls we unconsciously build. Trauma might begin with an event, but its true impact is in how it reshapes our internal world.
Trauma and Trauma-Related Issues
What is Trauma?
Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience that can have long-lasting effects. It encompasses various forms of psychological or physical injury. These range from feelings of being frightened, threatened, or violated to experiencing profound disappointment, abandonment, or abuse. Such events can occur at any stage of life. While some individuals can process these experiences without enduring significant psychological harm, others may need professional support due to the overwhelming impact of these events' intensity, duration, and frequency.
Understanding Trauma Experiences
Acute Trauma: If you have gone through a sudden, overwhelming event like a car accident or natural disaster, you may be dealing with acute trauma. This type of trauma shakes your sense of safety and control, often having a lasting emotional impact.
Chronic Trauma: This refers to the emotional burden that accumulates from enduring situations like ongoing domestic abuse or long-term exposure to an abusive environment. Unlike acute trauma, the effects of chronic trauma build up over time and can feel inescapable.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): If you find yourself constantly reliving traumatic experiences through flashbacks or nightmares, you could be dealing with PTSD.
Complex Trauma: This occurs when you've faced multiple traumatic experiences, especially in contexts where trust should be inherent, such as repeated abuse from a family member or ongoing betrayal in a romantic relationship.
Complex PTSD: This is an advanced form of PTSD that arises from prolonged exposure to traumatic events, particularly those that occur in relationships or situations where you should feel safe.
Developmental Trauma: If you experienced neglect or abandonment during your formative years, you could be grappling with developmental trauma. Such early experiences can profoundly shape your emotional and psychological well-being.
Medical Trauma: Experiencing severe injuries that require surgery or extended hospital stays can result in medical trauma. The high levels of stress, fear, and pain accompanying such events can profoundly impact your mental health.
Attachment Trauma: This type of trauma occurs when the vital bond between a child and caregiver breaks down, often due to inconsistent caregiving or neglect.
Traumatic Loss: The sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one can cause what is known as traumatic loss, having a lasting emotional impact that shapes how you deal with grief going forward.
Identity Trauma: Discrimination or stigmatization based on aspects of your identity, such as race, gender, or sexual orientation, can lead to identity trauma.
Why Focus on Trauma?
Therapy aims to go beyond merely managing symptoms to uncover the root causes of persistent emotional suffering. While it's normal to feel sad, worried, or angry, when these emotions become overwhelming or persist over time, they often signify underlying issues, potentially related to trauma.
How Do I Know If I Have Experienced Trauma?
Recognizing trauma doesn't necessarily require recalling the event. The focus of therapy is on helping you transform from a traumatized sense of self to one that is confident, secure, and resilient. To determine whether you have experienced trauma, consider the following indicators. The more you resonate with these points, the more beneficial it will be to focus on trauma in your therapeutic journey.
Feeling Inadequate or Inferior: Struggling with an inner sense that you're not good enough.
Overwhelmed by Anger and Frustration: Feeling consumed by uncontrollable emotions.
Burdened by Guilt and Insecurity: Carrying a heavy load of shame and self-doubt.
Constant Need for Validation: Always seeking approval or affirmation from others.
Always On Guard: Living as though danger is perpetually around the corner.
Avoiding Emotional Confrontation: Side-stepping difficult feelings or states of emptiness.
Fear of Losing Connections: Worrying that mistakes will cost you relationships.
People-Pleasing: Maintaining relationships by accommodating others, even at your own expense.
Fear of Being a Burden: Hesitant to express needs or concerns to avoid disappointing others.
Feeling Lost and Directionless: Struggling with a lack of purpose or clarity.
Pondering Life's Meaning: Frequently questioning the bigger picture or your own mortality.
Sensing Otherness: Feeling like you're fundamentally different from those around you and do not feel understood.
If you find yourself relating to one or more of the issues listed below, it's possible you're grappling with unresolved trauma. Remember, you're not alone, and understanding is the first step to healing. This list is not diagnostic, but consider it a welcoming door into better self-understanding and emotional well-being.
Persistent Sadness or Despair: Feeling hopeless or overwhelmed for extended periods of time. If you find yourself enveloped in a cloud of despair or hopelessness, you're not alone. There's a way to find sunlight again.
Anxiety: Experiencing irrational fears, panic attacks, or constant worry. Fear and constant worry can be daunting, but you don't have to go through it by yourself. When fears or constant worries make you feel like you're losing control, remember that support and guidance are available to help you regain your footing.
Anger: Struggling with intense anger or irritability. If intense irritability or anger is becoming a constant companion, understand that this is a common reaction to deeper issues, and a pathway to peace does exist.
Guilt or Shame: Feeling overwhelmingly guilty or ashamed, often for things outside your control. Overwhelmed by guilt or shame, especially for things outside your control? You deserve compassion and understanding.
Emotional Numbness: Feeling disconnected from your own emotions or the emotions of others. When emotions feel distant or disconnected, it can be a lonely place. You don't have to journey through it alone.
Flashbacks: Re-experiencing traumatic events vividly. Vivid re-experiencing of past events can be jarring; help is available to navigate through these mental landscapes.
Difficulty Concentrating: Struggling to focus on tasks or make decisions. Struggles with focus or decision-making can be disorienting, but you're not alone in this.
Negative Beliefs: Holding a negative view of yourself, others, or the world. If you find yourself stuck in a negative thought pattern about yourself or the world, know that change is possible.
Memory Issues: Having gaps in memory, especially related to traumatic events. Gaps in memory, especially around traumatic events, can be unsettling; compassionate guidance can help you sort through the fog.
Avoidance: Actively avoiding places, people, or situations that remind you of the trauma. When avoiding places or people connected with past trauma, understand that it's a common defense mechanism; and it's possible to lower those defenses safely over time.
Hypervigilance: Being excessively alert or watchful, even in safe environments. If you're excessively alert even in safe spaces, it's an understandable reaction to feeling threatened; but you can learn to feel secure again.
Impulsive Behavior: Engaging in risky or destructive behavior without thinking of the consequences. Engaging in risky activities without forethought can be a cry for help; there are healthier ways to find relief and control.
Disconnection: Withdrawing from friends, family, or activities you once enjoyed. Withdrawing from friends or activities is a common way to cope; reconnection is possible, and it's okay to take that first step.
Sleep Problems: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or experiencing nightmares. If nights are long and restful sleep is elusive, know that there are ways to improve your rest.
Fatigue: Feeling constantly tired or lacking energy. Constant tiredness is more than just physical; it's emotionally draining too. There's help to regain your energy.
Physical Pain: Experiencing unexplained aches and pains. Unexplained aches and pains can weigh you down; lifting that weight is easier with the right support.
Chronic Illness: Struggling with persistent health issues like headaches, stomach issues, or other physical complaints. Persistent physical issues can be both a cause and a result of emotional turmoil; holistic care is available.
Difficulty Trusting Others: Struggling to build or maintain relationships. Struggles with trust can make relationships hard; let's explore how to rebuild that trust safely.
Conflict in Relationships: Frequent arguments or emotional distance with friends, family, or partners. If emotional distance or conflicts are the norm, new ways of relating and connecting are possible.
Codependency: Feeling a constant need to take care of others at the expense of your own well-being. Taking care of others needn't mean neglecting yourself; balancing these needs is a skill you can learn.
Substance Misuse: Misusing drugs, alcohol, or other substances to cope. Using substances to escape can provide temporary relief but permanent solutions do exist.
Eating Issues: Engaging in binge eating, anorexia, or bulimia as a form of control or coping. Coping through food, whether too much or too little, is a signal, not a life sentence.
Self-Harming: Engaging in behaviors like cutting, burning, or hitting oneself as a way to cope with emotional pain. Physical self-harm is often an external expression of inner pain; there are gentler ways to cope.
Suicidal Ideation: Having thoughts of suicide or planning suicide. If you're experiencing thoughts of ending your life, immediate help is available; you don't have to carry this burden alone.
Your well-being matters, and help is available. Take that first step; you don't have to walk this path alone.
If you need immediate help, find resources below.
National Suicide Prevention Line: 988
Crisis textline: Text HOME to 741-741
Talk To Someone Now:
FAQs about Trauma
What Is the Point of Talking About Previous Trauma? Why Not Just Build Skills to Move On?
Building coping skills is indeed one option for addressing trauma and its impact on mental, emotional, and relational health. In some situations, focusing solely on skills might be the most appropriate approach for moving on quickly. It's worth mentioning that discussing previous trauma in detail is never a requirement when working with me. Everyone has their own methods of self-preservation and the right to decide what they are comfortable discussing. If you're not ready to talk about something that could overwhelm you, we won't address it until you feel ready. This is a matter of basic respect; the aim to help should never warrant intrusive pressure.
What Makes Psychodynamic Therapy Different from CBT, DBT, or EMDR?
Short-term therapies like CBT, DBT, and EMDR have helped countless people. They offer quick, targeted ways to manage symptoms, which is wonderful. I have also compiled practical skills and strategies for clients who wish to learn concrete techniques. Psychodynamic therapy is generally a long-term approach. Many people who have tried short-term therapies and have seen some improvements may eventually opt for long-term therapy to delve deeper into their issues and enjoy a more personalized therapeutic experience. For those who find short-term therapy less effective, you may benefit from a more tailored, long-term approach, such as my client-centered psychodynamic therapy.
How Can I Determine if Short-Term or Long-Term Therapy Is a Better Option for Me?
Exploring therapy options is a brave step! Starting with short-term therapy is an excellent way to get a feel for the therapeutic process. This typically involves a series of about 12 sessions over 3 to 9 months, depending on your comfort and progress. If, at the end of it, you find something lacking or yearn for a deeper connection, you might consider my client-centered, long-term psychodynamic approach. Sometimes it takes a while to uncover what we really need, and that's perfectly okay. Take all the time you need to decide; this is your journey, and you should feel empowered at every step.
"The toxic memories of trauma governed my life for years. But psychodynamic therapy made me feel seen and set me free"
Lucia Osborne-CrowleyPsychodynamic therapy helped me overcome trauma when CBT couldn’tPsyche: https://psyche.co/ideas/psychodynamic-therapy-helped-me-overcome-trauma-when-cbt-couldnt
for Trauma Recovery
The Benefits of Psychodynamic Therapy
In the vast field of psychotherapeutic approaches, psychodynamic psychotherapy stands out as one of the most enduring and influential modalities, particularly when addressing trauma and trauma-related issues. Here's why this approach holds tremendous potential for individuals grappling with traumatic experiences from the past:
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Unlike some other therapeutic modalities, psychodynamic psychotherapy delves deep into the unconscious mind. It seeks to uncover and address repressed memories, feelings, and unresolved conflicts from the past, many of which may be linked to trauma. By understanding these root causes, individuals can achieve profound healing over time.
The therapeutic relationship in psychodynamic therapy is central to the healing process. This relationship provides a safe space for individuals to recreate and understand past relational dynamics, especially those that might have contributed to their trauma. Over time, this fosters trust, which is crucial for trauma survivors.
Emphasis on Emotional Expression
Psychodynamic therapy encourages the open expression of emotions. This cathartic process allows trauma survivors to give voice to their pain, fears, and other suppressed feelings, facilitating emotional release and healing.
Addresses Maladaptive Patterns
By understanding unconscious processes and past experiences, individuals can recognize patterns in their behavior that may be detrimental. Recognizing these patterns is the first step towards change, allowing individuals to cultivate healthier ways of coping and relating.
Holistic View of the Individual
Psychodynamic therapy views individuals holistically, taking into account their life history, relationships, dreams, and even their seemingly illogical behaviors. By doing so, it offers trauma survivors a comprehensive framework to understand themselves and their reactions to traumatic events.
Transforms the Brain
How Psychodynamic Therapy Transforms the Brain through Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to reorganize and adapt by forming new neural connections, has been a groundbreaking concept in neuroscience. It suggests that our experiences, including therapeutic interventions like psychodynamic therapy, can literally change the structure and functioning of our brains. Here's how psychodynamic therapy harnesses the power of neuroplasticity to address trauma and trauma-related issues:
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Engaging the Brain through Talk
Talking activates various regions of the brain associated with memory, emotion, and cognition. When engaging in deep therapeutic conversations, as is common in psychodynamic therapy, we stimulate and rewire neural pathways, shifting from traumatic patterns to more adaptive ones.
Therapeutic Alliance as Neural Catalyst
Building a secure and trusting relationship within therapy isn't just emotionally healing. The consistent positive interactions and secure attachments formed can pave the way for the brain to form new, positive neural pathways, replacing those shaped by traumatic experiences.
Transference as Neural Reprogramming
Transference, where past emotions are projected onto the therapist, becomes an opportunity to 're-live' and 're-process' past traumas in a safer environment. Over time, these repeated positive re-experiences can rewrite traumatic neural patterns.
From Defense Mechanisms to Neural Growth
Defense mechanisms, initially formed to protect against the pain of traumatic experiences, have neural pathways of their own. By naturally addressing and transforming these mechanisms in therapy, individuals can form new neural patterns that support growth and healing.
Narrative Reconstruction and Neural Re-mapping
Crafting a new narrative around traumatic experiences isn't just a cognitive exercise. When trauma survivors actively engage in restructuring their story, they're also guiding their brains to form new connections and pathways that support this renewed narrative.
Long-Term Impact and Lasting Change
Unlike short-term coping strategies, the changes catalyzed by psychodynamic therapy are profound. The therapy doesn't just offer symptomatic relief; it promotes neural reorganization, leading to lasting transformation and growth.