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Wellness

How I Learned To Relieve Stress And Find Joy In The Struggle

An American therapist who struggled with many challenges with her own family and work had many things she learned as she progressed to an expert in trauma and recovery. In this piece, she shares what she and other working therapists need to know about the ways our own bodies respond to trauma, and we can all benefit from finding the solutions that work best for us.

Being a therapist requires the ability to work with a variety of people from a wide range of backgrounds, abilities and life circumstances. That requires making many accommodations. While some people may be open to talking about trauma with a professional, others are not. That is okay. So, let’s start there.

For this essay, I’ll be focusing on the experience of female trauma victims. If you have a male victim experience , I suggest reading the story of my male client (who also has survivor experience). Because most of you reading this article have female victims, many of you may have already had a therapist ask you about the experience of your experience, and if you have not, there’s a number of resources available online as well as local therapy agencies.

Before you go any further, know that this is not a judgmental piece that tries to judge you or shame you. This is about your experiences and finding solutions to your problems. If you have female survivors or victims of abuse, my work as a therapist has been, and continues to be, to treat the physical symptoms of the trauma that have been perpetrated. I still have survivors who are angry at me as a result, and I am angry that I didn’t understand that sooner. But the goal of my work is to improve, and it requires an understanding of the body. This is my opportunity to talk about how I view my bodies in relation to trauma in order to learn not only how to treat other people’s triggers, but also how to better support my own self-care and comfort in the moment, especially now that I know that I am a healthy, recovered, independent woman. A healthy, recovered, independent woman (or man).

There is an ancient Greek myth that you can tell from the title of my piece–it is about my experience with female sexuality. You may be familiar with Venus (who was the daughter of Zeus) and Aphrodite, for they were the beautiful and beloved goddesses of love, beauty, children and fertility. That’s where the analogy with female trauma comes from. Venus and Aphrodite were also considered to be divine, but I’ve got something to tell you that may surprise you. While Venus and Aphrodite were goddesses who brought love, beauty, joy to others, they also brought their own set of challenges and fears. That’s where the analogy to female trauma begins.

So, how does being in love/sex/pregnancy/etc. affect the brain and body? It’s not always safe to say that it affects everything, but there’s a strong likelihood that certain factors and triggers can cause trauma symptoms .

Treatment of Female Victims of Trauma

It has become popular to try and treat female survivors of trauma, and there are many ways this is often done. Some therapists focus on physical aspects of recovery. Many take it a step farther and focus on the emotions and relationship. A few try to treat the trauma with yoga and mindfulness. But often the female survivor remains in therapy to learn new and more effective ways to cope with her distress and find solutions for how best to continue living, healing and surviving, and how best to deal with the negative thoughts that are causing her to feel anxious, overwhelmed and stressed.

These are very important conversations to have with yourself and anyone you care about who you’ve had a rape or sexual assault.

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