PTSD and Trauma Therapy

A rose in front of a field, petals held close.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

~ Maya Angelou

If you have experienced past trauma and you are struggling, trauma-focused therapy can help you put your life back together. You can feel whole, calm, healthy, hopeful, and happy. We are here to support you.

Your experience of your trauma is deeply personal. We help people work through the effects of their trauma to feel safe again. If you would like to heal the pain you carry from your past experiences, reach out and contact us.

Understanding Trauma and PTSD

If you or someone you know is currently in crisis or imminent danger, call 9-1-1. If you, a loved one, or a friend is in crisis, speak with someone immediately by dialing 9-8-8. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available in English and Spanish. Hours are 24/7 daily.

Today, we understand that trauma is a significant factor in various mental health conditions, including PTSD, depression, anxiety disorders, and dissociative disorders. As the psychological and mental health field learn more and more about the complex effects of trauma on both our minds and bodies, we at Health and Healing Therapy are constantly deepening our understanding of the complexity of trauma while providing the most trauma-informed, evidence-based, and person-centered therapeutic approaches.

No one is immune to the effects of trauma. Trauma can have a significant impact on individuals, whatever their age, gender, background, or resilience. PTSD treatment and trauma-focused therapy acknowledges the unique impact that traumatic experiences can have on an individual’s mental health, physical health, and overall well-being.

Common Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Trauma and PTSD

PTSD and trauma can significantly impact your daily functioning, quality of relationships, physical health, and overall mental wellness. If you’ve experienced a traumatic event either recently or in the past, you may also be suffering with difficult and distressing after effects. We encourage you to take a moment and review the following symptoms that are common, yet treatable.

Intrusive Symptoms

  • Flashbacks to the traumatic event through vivid memories or nightmares
  • Unwanted or recurrent distressing memories and thoughts
  • Stressful thoughts or mental images related to the trauma
  • Overwhelming feelings of fear, guilt, anger, or sadness triggered by reminders of the trauma

Avoidance Symptoms

  • Avoidance of people, places, activities, or situations, especially if they remind you of the trauma
  • Feeling detached, numb, or disconnected from yourself, others, or your environment
  • Avoiding talking about the traumatic event or conversations related to it
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • A decreased ability to experience positive emotions

Negative Cognitive and Mood Symptoms

  • Persistent negative beliefs about yourself, others, or the world
  • Excessive guilt or self-blame related to the traumatic event
  • Difficulty remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Persistent feelings of fear, anger, shame, or sadness
  • Loss of interest or participation in activities that used to bring joy
  • Feeling emotionally detached or estranged from others

Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms

  • Constantly being on high alert and expecting danger, a threat, or something bad happening
  • Problems falling asleep, staying asleep, or having frequent nightmares
  • Irritability and anger, outbursts of anger, or aggressive behavior
  • Trouble focusing, paying attention, and/or making decisions
  • Being easily startled or having an exaggerated physical response to triggers
  • Needing more personal space and seeking a sense of protection due to internally feeling vulnerable, unprotected, and anxious

Our individual experiences of trauma(s) vary, just as our responses and effects are personal and unique to us. It’s important to seek professional help for a proper diagnosis, support, and treatment options if you or someone you know is suffering from the impact of trauma and/or symptoms of PTSD. If you are experiencing suffering as an aftermath of your trauma, know it can end. We can help you move forward and leave it where it belongs – in the past.

Common Causes and Triggers of Trauma

If you have experienced or witnessed / seen an event that overwhelmed you and your ability to cope which then created a deep sense of fear, helplessness, or horror, you’ve experienced trauma and a traumatic event.

The good news is that you survived. Sometimes once a trauma is over, our body and our mind don’t always fully realize it is. We may still feel like we are in danger, that we are stuck in the past, that it will happen again, or that life will never be the same. When this happens, we need to work on healing our brains and bodies so they can know we are now safe and protected.

How Trauma Affects the Brain

Prefrontal Cortex

Responsible for rational thinking, executive functioning, and higher-level thinking and reasoning. Trauma can decrease the prefrontal cortex‘s function, which can cause difficulty assessing present and actual threat, making clear, informed decisions, and expressing and calming emotions. This part of our brain can be confused about our actual safety and whether or not a trauma is really over.


Helps regulate smell and perception, stores long-term memory, and differentiates between past and present. With repeated exposure to trauma, the hippocampus shrinks, which may cause difficulties storing and recalling information. In addition, it can release too much of a stress hormone called cortisol.

A diagram of a brain identifies the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and the hippocampus.


The “alarm system” and emotional response center of the brain that perceives and causes a fear response. Trauma increases the amygdala‘s activation, often causing confusion over actual safety vs. threat. When we experience triggers or reminders of trauma, it can activate intense and unnecessary fear responses. This part of the brain often becomes hyperactive due to effects from trauma, and the feelings of fight or flight can be consistently activated.

Types of Trauma

Unfortunately, during our lifetime we can be exposed to different types of traumas. Some traumatic experiences may happen once (single incident), whereas others may happen to us repeatedly (continual). However, both types of traumas can be devastating and can have a great impact on us.

Single Incident Trauma

Some people experience single incident traumas, like being involved in a car accident, mugging, assault, or an unexpected medical emergency where they thought, felt, or feared they would die.

Continual and Complex Trauma

Others may experience multiple traumas: witnessing or being a victim of ongoing domestic violence, childhood physical or sexual abuse, or continual invasive medical treatments.

Common complex trauma experiences may include:

  • Childhood physical abuse or sexual abuse
  • Psychological and mental manipulation
  • Verbal abuse
  • Domestic violence involving a continual power and control cycle
  • Childhood neglect
  • Active combat
  • Unwanted, unexpected, or extremely painful medical experiences and/or treatments. This often happens when people undergo required treatments for their chronic illness.

The emotional and psychological scars of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, psychological harm, active combat, or complex medical care can leave long-lasting consequences. These painful, abusive, and violating experiences can have severe psychological consequences, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and difficulties with trust and forming healthy relationships.

Traumatic experiences can occur in various settings. With children, instances of abuse and neglect can happen within personal or caregiver relationships and family interactions or with institutions. Adults can experiences onset trauma in personal relationships, during combat, when working with the medical treatment community, etc.

Impact of Traumatic Experiences

“I was abused when I was a child, and I feel overwhelmed from past trauma memories. It’s causing a lot of stress for me, and I can’t focus at work. I feel on edge, moody, sad, and depressed.”

Many people have experienced some type of adverse childhood experience or a childhood or adult trauma. After a trauma, people may be in shock or feel out of control, overwhelmed, violated, anxious, and, sometimes, terrified.

The personal impact of trauma has had on you depends on the trauma itself and some other life experiences known as protective factors. Protective factors that can help insulate a person from experiencing severe forms of PTSD and trauma can include:

  • If you had a safe person(s) in your life who helped support and see you through the traumatic experience
  • If you were able to feel your feelings during the trauma and/or after the trauma, allowing your body and emotions to have a healthy discharge of energy through crying, shaking, talking, or sharing your experience
  • After you experienced something scary or traumatic, if you were able to fully escape from the situation without major physical or emotional harm
  • During your childhood, if you experienced a secure attachment from a caretaker and believed they could and did meet your physical and emotional needs
  • As a child, if you believed that you were safe, secure, loved, and cared about
  • If self-soothing and calming yourself were modeled and taught and you learned how to self-soothe when you felt distressed
  • As a child or teen, if you didn’t suffer from a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.

Trauma-focused Therapy in PTSD and Trauma Treatment

Just as everyone’s experience of trauma is different, the therapy treatment that we pursue is unique to your needs. Trauma-focused therapy is a specialized approach which treats each person individually, examining their specific trauma-related symptoms and diagnostic symptoms for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on how your thoughts and feelings about yourself and your trauma experience can impact your reactions and behaviors. It helps you examine the connections as well as the levels of helpful and harmful impact your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors have on your present day life.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a specialized trauma therapy designed to process traumatic memories and alleviate associated distress. It aims to reprocess and desensitize traumatic memories, including negative beliefs about yourself and emotions that haven’t been fully discharged and released. EMDR therapy can help you reduce the harmful impact trauma has on your life.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT has shown effectiveness in treating trauma-related symptoms. DBT combines elements of cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness and acceptance-based strategies. It focuses on emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and enhancing self-compassion. DBT teaches you skills to calm and soothe your feelings of fear and distress, be and stay in the moment, and identify ways you can feel empowered in your life.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)

TF-CBT is a specialized form of CBT designed for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma. Combining cognitive-behavioral techniques with trauma-focused interventions, TF-CBT addresses symptoms related to trauma exposure and involves psychoeducation, skill-building, and parent or caregiver involvement.

Group therapy and support groups can also support PTSD and Trauma Therapy. Individuals with similar experiences can share and process their trauma with other people who understand and have been there. Group therapy allows for validation, peer support, and learning from others’ perspectives.

The choice of therapeutic treatment for PTSD and trauma depends on individual needs and preferences. Therapy is a collaborative process tailored to address the unique circumstances and symptoms of the trauma and PTSD experienced by each individual.

Meet our Therapists

Therapists at Health and Healing Therapy are able to help people work through the effects of trauma to become more connected to themselves and able to enjoy their present life. We would be honored to help you create the life you want and deserve.

A quiet office with two round teal chairs.

If you would like to heal the pain you carry from your past experiences, reach out and contact us.

You don’t have to suffer alone. Our therapists can help you Grow, Heal, and Thrive.