Trauma & PTSD Therapy

In our modern age, more and more people are being affected by traumatic events.  When I started my work as a therapist 18 years ago, I could never have guessed that I would be helping people overcome the PTSD and anxiety of mass shootings.  But trauma and even PTSD can have many sources, and most of them are not dramatic.  Many soldiers come back from war with some level of PTSD, and there are actually a variety of ways that military personnel may experience trauma.  People in psychologically abusive relationships can also develop PTSD.  A car accident, a horseback riding accident, or any experience where you felt intense pain, fear and/or threat will give rise to PTSD.  

I'm Erik Edler, LMFT, a counselor/therapist located in San Luis Obispo (SLO), and accessible from across the Central Coast.

One of my main specializations is helping people recover from the traumatic experiences in their lives.   More and more, all of psychotherapy is being informed by our growing understanding of trauma.  Trauma is diverse and pervasive.  Any event that overwhelms our ability to cope is a form of trauma.  In the past, trauma might have been seen as something that was only severe and rare.  Today, we understand that varying levels of trauma have been a part of many people's lives.    My approach to treating trauma and PTSD draws mainly from the techniques of Somatic Experiencing and Trauma-Focused Therapy (TFT). Personally, although it's a slightly longer process, I have found that this approach delivers deep and long-lasting results.  Different approaches work for different people, so if you are seeking EMDR, I can refer you to one of my colleagues in the area.  I would be happy to talk with you about how Somatic Experiencing and Trauma-Focused Therapy work.   

Being able to work well with all forms of trauma-related issues is essential in successful psychotherapy and counseling, since in a broad sense, almost all mental health issues, emotional problems, and relationship problems, are actually based in what can be viewed as traumas, big and small, specific and general, extreme and subtle.   In shock trauma, one experiences an overwhelming feeling of danger and distress, coming from something sudden.  Mass shootings are obviously the prime example of shock trauma.  Shock trauma could be an individual event, such as a car accident, or something more long-term, such as soldiers who have been in a war zone, or spouses that have been the victim of domestic violence over a period of months or years.  These are just some examples; the actual possibilities are many. 

Shock trauma will often give rise to PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  In PTSD, you might experience hyper-awareness to potential danger, nightmares, or be easily and intensely startled.  One of the worst symptoms is a chronic, ongoing sense of dread, impending doom, trembling, and/or continual anxiety.  I have seen people leave their PTSD untreated for years, and for years they suffer this way.  They keep thinking that they will get over it, or they should get over it.  But if it's true PTSD, you will never get over it until you receive the proper treatment.

In developmental trauma, overwhelming emotions become a regular part of growing up as a child or adolescent.  Chronically abusive, critical, or neglectful parents cause a child's mind and physical nervous system to develop in a context of ongoing trauma.  In cases like this, one may grow up in a traumatized or semi-traumatized state, and then in adulthood experience symptoms such as chronic, low-grade depression (or severe depression), or what is known as "free-floating anxiety," a sense of dread and nervousness that comes from anywhere or from no where.  The feeling might have originated as a child, waiting long hours for dad to get home from work, knowing you're going to "get the belt" when he gets home.  Growing up always suspended in a state of anxiety will imprint that anxiety into your nervous system, until it becomes semi-permanent.  

There are a variety of approaches that can be taken in the therapy process of resolving trauma.  I'm afraid I don't do EMDR, but I could refer you if that's what you are seeking.  Several of my colleagues use this technique.  I have had excellent results with my approach.  My approach is time-tested and evidence-based; a gentle, gradual approach that allows clients to work through their issues on the deepest, most helpful levels, and to do so in a way that is safe and long-lasting.  If you have any questions about this type of issue or how therapy might be helpful to you, please don't hesitate to contact me.

I don't want you to suffer any longer.  Whether you are experiencing the intense symptoms of shock trauma or the more chronic symptoms of developmental trauma, there is hope, and there is a process, which can help you overcome the trauma and anxiety you feel.  Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have. You can call me at 805-868-0767. Erik

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Erik Edler LMFT