Trauma | Lydia Charak Psychotherapy - Toronto, ON Canada

Trauma Therapy in Toronto

When it comes to trauma, I find my clients tend to fall into two camps. Those who come looking for help because they are fully aware of trauma they have experienced and recognize its impact on their mental and physical health. They come to therapy for support in their healing.

The second set are those who
don’t have any idea that trauma may be a factor in their present-day problems. Connecting the dots to childhood adverse events isn’t even on their radar. I gently guide these clients through a process where they find answers to their painful questions and develop compassion for themselves.

If you are
suffering from trauma of any sort and are finding it difficult to make you way through this world there is hope. Your behaviours and emotions have developed as responses to frightening and debilitating events and recognizing how you adapted is the first step to recovery.

I discuss several types of trauma on this page since they’re not all alike and they can manifest themselves differently for each person.
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Childhood trauma

You remember your childhood as lonely and frightening. You were either hit, yelled at or ignored and you witnessed arguing and violence between your parents. There was chaos and noise and confusion all around and your family split up leaving you in poverty and feeling isolated.

Taking care of their own needs first, your parents frequently tuned out and pulled away leaving you neglected when you needed them most. They weren’t capable or willing to be the parents they needed to be so you learned how to be small and agreeable, so just maybe, mom or dad would still love you.

Your mom was anxious all the time. She hovered over you as if you were going to break and overprotected you. As a result, you got bullied at school and didn't have any friends. All the kids teased you because of what you wore or where you lived. They didn't know there was no extra money to spend on new shoes or a pretty dress.

Drugs and alcohol were prevalent in your home too and strange and scary people frequently hung around making you feel unsafe. Some of them hurt you sexually. You're not sure, even now, if anyone would have stopped them had they known what was going on. You lost your trust somewhere along the way.

Some of these memories are so vivid they send you reeling when you think of them. Others you can't and don't want to remember even if you could. They are just too painful.

You may not be able to trust enough to be in a lasting relationship or you've resorted to drug use or drinking to dull the pain. Numb feels better than suffering.

Childhood trauma, commonly known as developmental trauma, impacts and influences how you navigate the world today. Some of the telltale signs of trauma show up as anxiety, depression, self-esteem and negative self-talk.
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Adult trauma

Being emotionally and/or physically abused by another person can be a source of trauma. They ridicule you and put you down making you think you're the one whose crazy and you don't feel like you have the guts or strength to walk away.

You’ve put everything into this relationship and your partner has you convinced that no-one else will want you and you believe it. You’ve been hiding and minimizing what’s happening to you at home and despite the threat to your mental health and sense of self – you stay.

Additional terrible things can happen and your trauma gets compounded by further stressors and setbacks. Someone close to you dies suddenly and you're blindsided. You're experiencing such grief and loss to the point that you're can't get out of bed to go to work.

You can't imagine a world without this person and learning to live again without them seems unbearable. Your mood is black, you're increasingly irritable and people are noticing.

External traumatic events

Something terrifying and out of your control happened that has shaken you to the core, like a serious accident or being the victim of violence. You've been assaulted by someone you trusted and feel violated and dirty as though it was your fault.

You’ve lived through a natural disaster or war or sudden unexpected loss and in those moments you feared for your life. You felt helpless and vulnerable and completely out of control. Now you're overwhelmed and unable to cope.

Trauma can happen at any point and impact you for the duration of your life if it isn't treated.
It can change you so fundamentally that it hinders your progress and limits your future possibilities.

Trauma can totally interfere with you being your authentic, natural self and colour how you look at the world around you.

Signs and symptoms of trauma:

You've experienced something that you are constantly reminded of and even though you wish those thoughts would go away – they don’t.

avoid the people and places that remind you of the frightening and traumatic event.

Trauma is
interfering with your relationships or making it impossible to develop closeness with others.

Memories of your trauma keep you up at night and disrupt your sleep with nightmares.

anxious most of the time, drink heavily or use recreational drugs to numb yourself.

Addictions are interfering with your life.

You feel
depressed and ashamed a lot of the time.

blame yourself for what happened to you.

Click on the following links for more information on:
addictions, nightmares, anxiety, depression, shame, grief and legacy.

How I work with trauma

When working with trauma we go slow. I ensure you have the skills to cope with difficult material before we go anywhere near it so you can confidently take care of yourself when we’re not together. We only progress at the speed you are comfortable with and you have the control on how much you share and when to stop.

We take time to talk. I witness your story,
validate your experiences and ask questions to help us both understand the significance of them in your life.

I gently work with you through
Compassionate Inquiry to delve into the beliefs you developed about yourself as a result of these experiences and how they manifest in your daily life. We imagine and explore possibilities to feel compassion for yourself and others which can support the healing process.
With your permission, I look for openings to work in the Expressive Arts which can offer you a supportive way of understanding and experiencing your trauma. Creating artwork while you tell your story can be a more comfortable and accessible way to go there.

Alternatively, you may prefer to intuitively tap into your emotions and physical sensations through art making and then explore what arrived.

If the trauma was sudden or recent, we’ll use the arts as a form of self-soothing to calm the nervous system and to process what happened to you, so you don’t suffer long-term.

The sensory qualities of the arts are key to helping individuals communicate traumatic memories and act as a bridge to their trauma narrative. This allows the mind and the body work together by integrating neurobiology with the emotional, spiritual and physical self.

By the way, I want to stress that no experience is needed to use the arts in this way so you can relax into the process and get the most out of sessions. And, If the arts aren’t your thing at all – no worries – I want to assure you our time together will be deep, rich and beneficial in treating your trauma symptoms.

Trauma therapy in Toronto

Therapy can help you can move from suffering to surviving and thriving by building your capacity to manage your emotions and to self-regulate. You will learn to have compassion for yourself along with a stronger sense of resilience which sets the stage for recovery.

There is hope for trauma sufferers. Reach out to me by
booking a consultation. You don't have to do this alone.

How the effects of trauma can show up

Click on the images below to read more about addictions and nightmares.
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