Relationship and Marriage Counseling to Heal from Traumatic Experiences
The psychological and emotional distress as a result of an event or situation, such as an accident, abuse, assault, community violence, or natural disaster which is perceived as threatening, frightening or dangerous.
As a distressing event occurs, our brain and body processes and stores the associated memories.
After a disturbing event, people may experience mild to moderate distress, and even continuing to think about the event, have a heightened emotional state, feeling sad, anxious or worried.
Depending on multiple factors, people can recover with minimal impact on their daily functioning. Some may require additional self-care or support from loved ones, and slowly the associated memories and emotional responses begin to fade.
However, there are times when an event can be too much for the brain and body to handle, significantly impairing the individual and their family system.
When this occurs, they may experience challenges in understanding or regulating their emotions, become focused on others, neglect their own needs, and perhaps feel increasingly irritable or nervous.
At times, they may be frightful, weary or cautious impacting the quality of their life.
Individuals may begin to re-experience distress associated with the trauma, causing a range of emotional and physical signs and symptoms:
· Feeling anxious, sad, or fearful
· Crying often
· Difficulty thinking clearly
· Reoccurring frightening thoughts, reliving the experience
· Feeling angry or irritability
· Difficulty sleeping or experiencing nightmares
· Avoidance of people or places that may bring back disturbing memories and responses.
· Stomach pain and digestive issues
· Feeling tired or fatigued
· Racing heart and sweating
· Feeling jumpy and easily startled
People impacted by a traumatic event may experience these symptoms; however may not always require professional help to cope.
It’s when these symptoms begin to interfere with their functioning (work, school, family or social) or their ability to care for themselves that we recommend someone seek professional support to prevent a mental health problem from developing, such as anxiety, depression and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is suggested to seek professional help if you or someone you know has experienced symptoms for more than 4 weeks.
A mental health professional can assess the intensity, frequency and severity of these symptoms and provide trauma therapy and support, including cognitive behavioral therapy, talk-therapy, EMDR, exposure therapy or a referral for psychiatric medication to begin healing and recovering.
Whether we are seeing you for individual, group, couples or family counseling services, our therapists utilize a trauma-informed perspective to understand the complexities of these experiences and their long term impact on how you may experience safety and security in the world.
It’s not safe to trust!
I’m a burden, I don’t want to impose on others!
It’s my fault! I caused this! I need to get over this - alone!
At Semillas Counseling, we utilize a trauma-informed approach to create a safe, therapeutic environment to empower you throughout every step of your healing.
Trauma-informed therapy can support you to gain a deeper understanding of your experiences, without feeling flooded, overwhelmed, or re-traumatized when bringing up painful issues.
Whether in family, couples or individual counseling, our therapists work with you to set the pace to explore past, traumatic experiences which may be interfering with the ability to do the things which once brought you pleasure and satisfaction.
You will begin to gently work through those emotional struggles, build resources to process and grow, and ultimately feel free and fully engaged in your world.
“It was so long ago”
“I’m fine if I just don’t think about it” –
Too often, we hear people minimize their experience or associated symptoms; however the emotional, physical, psychological pain is very real, and have long-lasting effects.
If associated memories (flashbacks) or your symptoms are interfering with your ability to fully engage at school or work, have impacted the way you feel or think about yourself, or prevent you from socializing with friends and family, perhaps speaking with a professional can help.
We understand the effects trauma has had on you, your relationships, how you perceive yourself, love yourself and are able to connect with others.
Begin to release yourself from the bondage of the symptoms you are experiencing - recover, reconnect and rebuild the life you desire to have.
The impact of a traumatic event can interrupt a sense of peace and security, ultimately disrupting a sense of trust and intimacy with another person.
When distress from a trauma lingers, trusting another person may feel worrisome, terrifying, and as partners engage with one another can lead to misunderstandings, confusion and perhaps frustration.
Recognizing the emotional, physical and psychological impact can be challenging, as most people attempt to work through these painful experiences on their own.
People may feel broken, guilty, shame or have been given messages by others reinforcing these negative beliefs, leaving a sense that trust, intimacy, and connection with another are dangerous and perhaps impossible.
People may feel flawed, undeserving or unworthy of love. These types of negative, repetitive thoughts can wear on an individual and their relationships with others.
Internally they may tell themselves:
Although these thoughts may provide some relief when the pain feels unbearable but can lead toward disconnection with others.
And often, when they enter into a loving safe relationship with another person, these statements linger in the back of their mind and may interfere with how they engage with their partner when a perceived may threat surface.
Watch this short video in which Dr. Gottman describes what it's like for couples when distress from trauma impacts the relationship.
Click here to learn more about the Gottman Institute
A form of depression or depressive symptoms
Develop compulsive behaviors as an attempt to try to manage their emotions or symptoms (e.g. eating disorders, substance use or gambling issues, etc)
Experience anxiety or panic attacks
Have flashbacks or recurrent nightmares
Recurrent suicidal thoughts
Engage in at-risk behaviors
Individuals and their partners may not be aware of how the effects of the trauma may be lingering and impacting their relationship, which may lead to distance, disconnection, frequent arguments, charged emotions and ineffective communication.
As these occur, emotions are heightened, partners withdraw become unresponsive, become conflict-avoidant, minimizing their ability to work through issues.
Partners begin to formulate assumptions about each other, the future of their relationship, building and holding on to negative beliefs and resentments.
As this dynamic develops, partners notice difficulty:
resolving even the most minor conflict
providing and receiving love
expressing fondness and admiration
accepting and receiving reassurances
feeling a sense of security within the relationship
These can wear away at the foundation of your relationship
Within individual, couples or marriage counseling services, partners can begin to understand the trauma and the impact on their relationships.
The trauma survivor can begin to heal from the traumatic experiences which they may not have realized was creating such distress, and their partners and families can begin to understand how to be of support and reduce further injury to their loved ones.
Within relationship and marriage counseling partners work on a range of stressors to the relationship; as we untangle the issues, one or both may have a trauma history interfering with their connection, sense of security and intimacy.
At a gentle pace, our therapists explore how partners may have experienced trauma, the effects and impact on their current relationships.
Partners can gain awareness to help separate past issues from present ones.
Through the course of therapy, partners can heal and perhaps begin to experience a greater sense of security, intimacy and authenticity within themselves and their relationships.
Semillas Counseling PLLC
737 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60611
4001 N Wolcott Ave, Chicago IL, 60613
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