Trauma can have a devasting effect on our life. When we're struggling, sometimes the last thing we want to do is reach out for help. We might feel scared of what the process looks like, fearful of finally opening up to someone, or we might be holding onto any of the following myths that keep us from getting the help we need:
I will have to sit there and recount all of the details of my past. What's the point?
Good trauma counselling doesn't involve sitting there and saying everything that happened to you. In fact, we don't even need to talk about the content of what happened as so much of our memory about trauma comes out through the body sensations, current emotions and triggers that you're already experiencing. We can work with these to help bring relief from overwhelming triggers and memory. Often individuals find that if they do have memory of what happened, sharing some of this in a safe and controlled way can bring relief from some of the shame or guilt they may feel.
My counsellor will just pity me or judge me for what I've gone through and how I'm dealing with it.
A good trauma therapist has enough experience and compassion to hear what you're saying without offering their judgements or opinions on what you've experienced. Their job is to hear what you're saying and try to place themselves into your reality and perspective to really get you, and help you feel heard. One of the most common things I hear from clients is that they don't feel judged, but instead feel so relieved to finally be heard for what they've experienced and gone through.
If I can't handle my emotions and thoughts, how can anyone else?
While you may feel that your emotions are too much to place onto someone else or bear, know that a trauma therapist is trained to handle these emotions and take part in their own regular self-care. A large part of the counselling process, especially the initial process, is developing trust that your counsellor can be with you and your emotions. Throughout this process it be helpful to mention your concerns to your counsellor if you sense that he or she is feeling you are "too much."
If I dealt with what happened in my past, my current reality would fall apart.
Believe it or not, trauma finds it way into our present life through our beliefs about the world, body sensations (such as chronic pain, headaches), and overwhelming emotions. When we don't deal with past trauma these things tend to persist into our future. A trained trauma therapist knows to work on building safety and stabilization before helping you work through past trauma, making sure that you have the tools and resources to deal with anything that might come up.
I'm too old to deal with my past now.
Thankfully research shows that it's never too late for change! Lots of research has been done on neuroplasticity and how the areas in our brain responsible for dealing with emotions and beliefs about the world, are able to form new neural connections. In the counselling process we are working towards 'filing away' the traumatic memories so that they no longer play such a predominant role in your life today.
If you feel ready to start dealing with your trauma please reach out. You don't need to be struggling alone.