Therapy for Trauma & Abuse

Halifax-based psychologist providing therapy for men

Abuse can take many forms, including but not limited to, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.

Some forms of abuse identify a particular relationship, such as in child abuse or spousal abuse. In addition, many psychologists view child neglect, whether it is physical or emotional, as a form of abuse. The impact of abuse can be long-lasting and traumatizing. It can affect our ability to experience and express various feelings related to the abuse and it can negatively impact how we see ourselves and how we view and approach relationships with others.

An experience is often considered to have been traumatic when the residual effects linger long after the initial event(s). With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, for example, the traumatic event is often re-experienced through images, thoughts, dreams, flashbacks, or physiological distress. An individual may also experience psychological or physiological distress when exposed to internal or external reminders of some aspect of the traumatic event. Avoidance can also play a part, as an individual may avoid stimuli associated with the trauma, including thoughts, feelings, conversations, memories, activities, places, or people. While avoidance patterns can temporarily relieve immediate feelings of anxiety or distress, they may also have a dramatic influence on quality, including current relationships.

We have experience working with survivors of trauma and will tailor interventions to suit the specific needs of our clients. We work within a science-based model of practice that may involve a combination of Cognitive-Behavioral interventions, behavioural or emotional exposure, and a re-processing of the trauma, which may involve exploring how these past experiences have impacted present functioning and current relationship patterns.

Recommended Reading

The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma & Trauma Treatment (Babette Rothschild)

With clarity and lucid detail, the author describes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the very real impact of trauma, abuse, and prolonged stress on the body. The reverberating effects of trauma are conceptualized as intense psychophysiological reactions responding to unresolved feelings. The trauma has yet to be consolidated into long-term memory, but instead remains alive and active in the present here and now. The author suggests ways of moving past the anxiety response to help the body cope with the real feelings of trauma so that it becomes nothing more than a bad memory.

Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists (Boon, Steele & van der Hart)

Aimed toward therapists and clients alike, this book looks explains many of the symptoms underlying PTSD, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and the dissociative states that are often lingering effects of psychological trauma. The authors describe trauma related dissociation in a clear language and provide skills-based approaches that can help to minimize maladaptive psychological states including: involuntary numbness, depersonalization, amnesia, losing track of time, self-harm, and so on. The goal is to circumvent these self-defeating reflexes to allow the body to reintegrate threatening psychophysiological states.


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