Counseling for Trauma
Most people will experience trauma in their lifetime whether it’s a car accident, abuse or neglect, the sudden death of a loved one, a violent criminal act, exposure to the violence of war, betrayal, infidelity or a natural disaster.
While many people can recover from trauma over time with the love and support of family and friends and bounce back with resiliency, others may discover effects of lasting trauma, which can cause a person to live with deep emotional pain, fear, confusion, or posttraumatic stress far after the event has passed.
In these circumstances, the support, guidance, and assistance of a therapist is fundamental to healing from trauma.
Betrayal Trauma is Different
The first response of the betrayed partner is a powerful emotional reaction, loosely defined as the spirit of jealousy. This experience, this intense knee-jerk reaction to a discovery of betrayal, has been coined in the mental health field today today as ‘betrayal trauma.’
The words, “This is crazy making!” echoes in my office over and over again from women, and men, in the aftermath of discovery. Appropriately labeling the painful experience of betrayal trauma helps partners in the midst of the chaos begin to understand their pain.
The initial “discovery” of betrayal in a relationship is referred to as D-Day. Whether this discovery includes compulsive inappropriate internet use, pornography, affairs, or other forms of infidelity, the impact on their partners is the same: shell-shocked.
They have symptoms ranging from depression, dissociation, panic attacks, hypervigilance, flashbacks, nightmares, and insomnia. They often develop physical symptoms including chronic fatigue, joint pain, hypertension, weight gain, loss of appetite, and even autoimmune diseases.
As therapists specializing in helping individuals and couples heal from betrayal trauma, we’ve seen firsthand that betrayal trauma is real. The shock is debilitating and can last for years. Betrayed partners’ lives are broken to pieces, overwhelmed with shame, thinking, “how could I be so stupid not to realize what was happening?” Also, questions such as why, how could you have lived a double life right under my nose? How could two realities have existed simultaneously and at the same time acting as a loving husband and father? They feel they are going crazy. But these feelings are all normal. This is probably the most shocking and confounding crisis they have ever experienced. Most partners say discovering that their beloved betrayed them is by far the worst crisis of their life.
According to the four types of symptoms listed in the DSM-5
- Avoiding specific locations, sights, situations, and sounds that serve as reminders of the event
- Anxiety, depression, numbness, or guilt
- Intrusive thoughts, nightmares or flashbacks
- Anger, irritability, and hypervigilance
- Aggressive, reckless behavior, including self-harm
- Sleep disturbances
Negative Mood and Cognition Symptoms
- Loss of interest in activities that were once considered enjoyable
- Difficulty remembering details of the distressing event
- Change in habits or behavior since the trauma
If you or someone you know matches the trauma symptoms listed above, I am confident that I can help and invite you to contact me today for a free consultation. 901-248-6001.