In Charlotte, NC and surrounding North and South Carolina
Has anything ever happened to you that was so painful, scary and you can still see as vivid as it was yesterday? Do you have trouble with sleeping, how about nightmares? Do random or small things bring on bad memories and cause you to feel depressed, jittery or afraid? Are you dealing with anxiety, panic attacks, or problems with digestion?
Or, maybe you’ve never had a classic trauma wound experience, but you find yourself still struggling with the feeling that something isn’t right.
Instead of asking, “What is wrong with me?” It’s more helpful to ask, “What happened to me?” The journey of healing and moving forward start by asking this question and search for support and help.
The discovery that the science of the brain, our bodies, and trauma are all very closely connected and has changed the way we do counseling at Charlotte Counseling Associates. This allows us to better understand the human experience and how the brain heals. And it’s a very hopeful way of healing.
Your Brain and How Trauma is Stored
The brain is like an onion, it has many layers and pieces. When we think and talk and make decisions, we use the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. When we feel emotions and remember memories, we use the middle brain, or limbic system. The brainstem controls our basic urges and fight, flight, or freeze instincts. Trauma is not stored in the prefrontal cortex, the logical part of our brain; it is stored in the middle brain and brainstem.
Because classic talk therapy doesn’t tap into the part of the brain where trauma is stored, it can often fall short in treating trauma. Additional tools and techniques are needed to access and heal the parts of the brain where trauma resides.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
When most people hear the word “trauma,” they think about major life events or severe crisis. We call this “Big T trauma”—a rape, a severe car accident, discovery of an affair(s), ware fare, or a major life event. Big T trauma ignites our fight, flight, or freeze survival instincts and can literally reshape our brain.
In The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk explains how trauma affects the brain; in addition to this trauma is actually stored in the cells of our bodies. When we feel the symptoms of PTSD, we are actually not reliving a memory in our mind; instead, our bodies are repeatedly reacting to trauma. It can cause everyday life to feel miserable and lead to panic attacks, body aches, addiction, work and relationship challenges, anxiety, and depression. Big T trauma is just that—big! It’s typically easy to notice this, and people often seek help for it.
But I don’t have PTSD, so what’s wrong?
Let’s explore—Was your trauma caused by an earthquake or a stream?
Think of Big T trauma as an earthquake. It’s big, loud, and gets a lot of notice. But there is another kind of trauma we call “Little t trauma,” and it is much more common than Big T trauma. We’ve found that Little t trauma is secretive and a catastrophic killer. Little t trauma is smaller in power, but over time, small wounds can add up.
Little t trauma is like a stream in a rocky landscape. No problem, right? Actually, water coursing through a landscape continually decomposes the rock. The Grand Canyon was shaped by water, and if you were raised in a abusive or neglectful environment, developmental trauma and attachment wounds are Little t traumas that can carve canyons in your heart.
Little children learn to adapt to their circumstances. Be used to living with abuse and neglect, little children learn to survive then come to reenact or even to prefer these environments. People do what they know because the familiar can feel normal. Attachment trauma is much harder to find and treat than Big T trauma, but we are experts in helping our clients uncover these patterns and beliefs of negative beliefs and turmoil.
While many clients say they have little or no trauma, we have found that they often either minimize their suffering or are unaware of their trauma. Through their inner child, how they grew up was “normal” because it’s difficult to tell the difference between what is appropriate and what is harmful as a child. “It’s all good”. Therefore, their life experience is normal to them, and a person can be unaware of the Little t Trauma they have suffered.
However, while the mind may be unsure of its little t trauma, the body recognizes this trauma. As Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, writes, “Every cell in your body eavesdrops on your thoughts.” The body keeps the score, even when our conscious mind is unaware. Many people who decide to enter into therapy for depression, panic attacks, self-harming, anxiety, addiction, or unhealthy patterns don’t think they have any trauma to heal, but our team of specialists is able to help uncover their Little t trauma. Identifying the stream that flowed around them for so many years is the first step to healing.
Our therapists are experts at treating PTSD, as well as developmental—or Little t—trauma. Our clinic offers outpatient counseling, custom intensives, and telehealth services. We incorporate the latest and most effective interventions including EMDR, brainspotting, mindfulness-based interventions etc. We are trained to help to “hold space” with your darkest moments.
Today is your chance to begin to break free from your trauma. See below to and contact us for the first step towards your path to healing.
Send Us a Message
New clients, please send us a message to schedule your free 15-minute Q/A call with Charlotte Counseling Associates, so we can answer any questions you may have and find out if we’re a good fit for working together to help you achieve your goals.