Trauma & PTSD Therapist in Los Angeles
What is trauma?
Events are traumatic to the extent that they overwhelm our capacity to cope. In the worst case, the events are life threatening and cause profound feelings of helplessness and terror. More commonly they involve emotional and physical betrayal by family members, lovers, teachers, clergy and "trusted" others. Such experiences can distort and damage our sense of self and our ability to relate safely and intimately with others.
How common is it?
Many people have had a few very threatening, overwhelming events that "never seem to go away." This often leads to a conflict between the desire to deny the horrible events and the will to express them loudly to others. "Folk wisdom is full of ghosts who refuse to rest in their graves until their stories are told" (Judith Herman, M.D., Trauma and Recovery, 1992).
What's important for healing to occur?
People need to make sense of what happened and share those events with others in a safe and supportive setting. Recovery is very difficult when this healing process is blocked or not available. A wide range of "symptoms" can develop: anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other addictions, erratic moods, numbing and detachment. Unfortunately the list is endless.
Recovery involves processing the emotional and cognitive meaning and impact of the disturbing experiences with an experienced, trusted therapist. The healing process need not be lengthy. It is, however, important to find an experienced therapist who establishes a safe, engaged relationship.
There is good news in that a number of scientifically verified treatments are available. These include EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing; www.emdr.org), a form of Cognitive Therapy known as Prolonged Imaginal Exposure. There is no reason why effective help cannot be obtained for those suffering from trauma and related conditions.
I have been working with trauma for over 20 years. I enjoy helping survivors because treatments are highly effective and good or complete recovery can often be achieved in a reasonable amount of time.
In addition to my clinical practice in West Los Angeles I have been part of organized treatment programs that provides emergency services in national and international disaster situations. For example, I worked in New York City after the September 11 tragedy; with impoverished women in Third World countries who are highly vulnerable to cervical cancer; with survivors of the tsunami in South East Asia, and; with people in Los Angeles after destructive earthquakes.
I personally organized and funded a program that twice went to the Balkans during the 1992-95 war and genocide. We trained 100 mental health professionals in trauma treatment methods.
All these experiences have given me great respect for the human capacity to recover from events that were initially terrorizing events. I am truly grateful for having been allowed to do my part to help people recover from serious violations to their psyche and to their human rights.
Dr Geoffry White has also published various articles about Trauma & PTSD therapy.