Psychotherapy and Trauma

Trauma is a difficult issue to address. Sometimes people are reluctant to reveal issues that have marked them from the past. Trauma takes many forms. Trauma can be psychological, where someone belittles and demeans you. It can be physical abuse such as getting hit repeatedly at times producing bruises or scars. Then there is sexual abuse which tends to be the most difficult to disclose. Sexual abuse can occur at the hands of parents, family members, neighbors or strangers that are predatory.

Trauma can also come in the form of intimate partner violence as an adult. This can come in many forms and it includes threats, throwing objects, depriving one of sleep, belittling, physical injury and sexual assault. Among these it is important to keep in mind that there are special populations such as individuals in same-sex relationships, individuals with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, and the elderly. For the elderly abuse can be psychological such as withholding affection.

Psychotherapy and Trauma
Psychotherapy and Trauma

Same-sex couples face added stigma from society. The LGBTQ community experience types of abuse that are specific to them. These include threatening to out a partner to employers. Telling the partner that abusive behavior is normal. Also, portraying the violence as mutual or consensual. The need to hide your sexual orientation coupled with relationship abuse has been termed the Double Closet. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in their National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (2013) found that the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner was highest for bisexual women.

Questionnaires to Identify Trauma

There are multiple self-report questionnaires that can help you identify if you’ve experienced trauma in your lifetime. The following is an excerpt from one of those measures by Hudnall Stam (1996, 1997)

  • As a child/adolescent I was hit, spanked, choked, or pushed hard enough to cause injury
  • As an adult, I was hit, chocked, or pushed hard enough to cause injury
  • As an adult or child, I have witnessed someone else being chocked, hit, spanked, or pushed hard enough to cause injury.
  • As a child/adolescent, I was forced to have unwanted sexual contact
  • As a child I was forced to have unwanted sexual contact
  • As a child or adult, I have witnessed someone else being forced to have unwanted sexual contact
  • I have witnessed or experienced an extremely stressful event not already mentioned

The Intimate Partner Violence Screening Tool STaT is a measure developed by Paranjape and Liebschuts (2003). The following are the questions it encompasses:

  • Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner has pushed or Slapped you?
  • Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner Threatened you with violence?
  • Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner has thrown, broken, or punched Things?

Trauma is synonymous with abuse whether it occurs as a child, adolescent or as an adult. The abuser can be known or unknown. The effects can be lasting, and can include unwanted thoughts, feelings of re-experiencing the traumatic event(s) and residual fears that accompany it.

If you have experienced trauma, taking the first step can be difficult. Remember, you aren’t doing this alone. You can have a caring, empathetic psychologist to assist you through this process, using psychotherapy. Having a history of trauma is associated with depression and anxiety. The symptoms can affect every facet of your life, personal, professional, and social. If any of the above-mentioned questions are true for you, please consider setting up an appointment for trauma-informed treatment. Our team at Miami Psychology Group are here to help you.