Survivors of Trauma

Clients who experienced childhood trauma, which included abuse or neglect, learn to not trust other people and that trusting others can feel terrifying. As children they learned to believe deep down that no one can really be trusted and intimacy is dangerous. They may also feel flawed, not good enough and unlovable. When childhood relationships with parents or caretakers are a source of overwhelming fear or when parents are absent leaving a child feeling helpless and alone, the child finds a way to cope and ways to survive! The child survives the best way they know how and these are some thoughts they may have:

Do not trust, it is not safe
Do not reach out you might get hurt
Do not dwell on how you feel, just move on

Many times when trauma children grow up and become adults they pick partners who are unresponsive, not trustworthy or abusive. This is because beneath their awareness is a drive to revisit and fix their unresolved trauma. Issues that can arise in current relationships can be:

Heightened reactions to common issues
Withdrawal or distant unresponsive behaviors
Assume partner is against you even when they are not
Doubt your partners love

As a Couples Therapist I need to help my client separate the past from the present and yet acknowledge how they are related. Educate/Learn how your past trauma impacts this current relationship and how to process this in healthier ways. A combination of both individual and couples sessions are helpful. Open and clear communication in sessions can also help client to:

Feel safe
Stay in the here and now
Learn how to regulate escalated behavior with compassion, support and awareness.

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