Thousands of people are what we call the “walking wounded,” those who live every day with unresolved trauma. Those who have experienced significant trauma usually find ways of coping with it, but many of these coping mechanisms aren’t healthy.
Dealing with the trauma in counseling takes courage, but it’s worth it. Unfortunately, a lot of people have fears about going through trauma therapy. Here are some of the most common fears—and how to move beyond them.
- Fear: Therapy will require you to relive the traumatic experience.
Reality: A variety of treatment options will help you re-frame your traumatic experience in ways that reduce its impact on you. Individuals have experienced significant trauma that may be triggered by unexpected things. Some common triggers include direct eye contact or loud sounds. Therapists are aware of these triggers and make efforts to avoid them. While you may touch upon the emotions of your trauma as you work through them, a caring counselor has the ability to guide you safely to a place of healing.
- Fear: Sharing with others means they will judge you.
Reality: Though it’s true that you probably wouldn’t want to shout such painful, personal information from the rooftops, doing so with a trusted person is both safe and healing. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough with a couple of people—perhaps your therapist and a significant other—can help you to realize you are not alone. Sharing your trauma with others removes a lot of the negative power from your experiences.
- Fear: You may discover you are broken beyond repair.
Reality: Past histories that include trauma isolate us. Consequently, you may come to believe that you are too damaged to be helped. The more convinced you are that you’re alone, the harder it may be to believe that you can ever recover.
However, it’s important to realize that the issues that we don’t properly deal with end up becoming larger and more significant in our minds. The truth is that nobody is really broken beyond repair. The deeper the traumas in your past, the longer it may take you to build a bond of trust with a therapist. But you can definitely achieve healing, no matter what has happened to you.
- Fear: You won’t be able to handle the pain.
Reality: The initial experiences that caused your trauma were intense and difficult to handle. You may wonder if you will be able to handle the painful emotions that come to light as you work through your past issues.
Remember, the worst is already over. You are a survivor. By working with a compassionate therapist, you will learn new cognitive approaches for dealing with painful memories. With therapeutic tools, practice, and time, eventually the pain will lessen. Therapy will likely show you that you are stronger than you know.
- Fear: Trusting a therapist will lead to abandonment.
Reality: Many people with histories of trauma have significant fears of abandonment. It can be difficult to trust a therapist—or anyone else—with your most painful secrets. You may fear making yourself vulnerable. Working with a therapist can help you to overcome these rejection and abandonment issues. By developing self-care strategies and a sense of confidence in yourself, you will come to know that you can count on yourself. When you are able to rely on yourself, your dependence on other people can become more mutually healthy and appropriate.
Take the First Step…
If you’re ready to take a step toward healing from the traumas of your past, I would love to help. Please contact me by phone or by email so that we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT