Trauma and PTSD have a massively negative impact. Whether rooted in childhood abuse, or a more focal traumatic experience in adulthood, the repercussions can be painful, confusing, and destructive. You can free yourself from this darkness.

The word “trauma” describes experiences that are emotionally painful and distressing, and that overwhelm your ability to cope. You feel powerless. Many different kinds of experiences can overwhelm our coping capacities and lead to trauma. Common situations that lead to trauma include life threatening situations, such as motor vehicle accidents, violence, and combat exposure, and experiences involving extreme personal violation, such as rape and sexual assault.

Severe abuse experienced during childhood can lead to what is referred to as 'complex trauma,' a type of trauma that occurs repeatedly and cumulatively over an extended period of time. Complex trauma can be especially challenging, because it is difficult to separate traumatic symptoms from a person's basic personality structure. The effects are quite deep, by definition.

Many people recover from trauma with time and through the support of family and friends, bouncing back with great resiliency. For others, the effects of trauma are lasting, causing a person to live with deep emotional pain, fear, confusion, or posttraumatic stress far after the event has passed. The issue is not one of "strength" or "courage" - Medal of Honor winners have been diagnosed with PTSD. Fortunately, today, more than ever, there are good treatment options for trauma-related problems.

As a therapist with the Department of Veteran's Affairs, I had considerable training and experience in the treatment of trauma. The treatment approach that I most often recommend is Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy. PE therapy is one of two "gold-standard" PTSD treatments (the other is Cognitive-Processing Therapy, or CPT), and is among the most scientifically well-supported treatments currently available.