Counseling for Women: Processing Trauma

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As beautiful as being a woman is, we do face some unique challenges. The way we are raised, socialized, and treated in society can have some negative impacts on us. Unfortunately, it’s up to us to learn about these oppressive systems. Only then can we work to rid ourselves of internalized narratives.

Traumatic Experiences of Women

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People who identify as women have unique traumatic experiences when compared to men. Because of the way much of society views women, we are still subjected to violence, slut-shaming, verbal abuse, manipulation, dismissal, and more. And it must also be noted that women with intersecting identities often face more discrimination and trauma than white women. The experiences of women as a whole are quite varied and challenging. Yet, there is a common thread among us all. We’ve all likely been harassed, dismissed, or silenced at some point in our lives.

When this happens many times, our physiological system (brain and body together) tries to protect us. This often happens when faced with something that reminds us of a traumatic event, known as a “trigger.” They can arise when experiencing a similar sight, smell, sound, touch, or taste to what happened during a traumatic experience. This is your system’s way of telling you “Watch out! We’ve been here before and it didn’t end well.” Your system also protects you by blocking a traumatic event or repeated events from your memory altogether. This is also known as “repression.” Even if you usually can’t recall a repressed memory, you may still have triggers that bring up symptoms.

Examples of Women’s Traumatic Experiences

  • Harassment at work
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Unhealthy relationship dynamics including isolation, manipulation, and gaslighting
  • Physical violence
  • Miscarriages
  • Abortion
  • Loss of a child
  • Breastfeeding complications
  • Postpartum concerns
  • Losing a job or being fired
  • Being ignored, spoken over, interrupted, or dismissed
  • Unprocessed trauma from childhood or adolescent years
  • Childhood sexual abuse or domestic violence
  • Coming out experiences for LGBTQ+ folks
  • Breakups or divorce
  • Becoming a parent to younger siblings early on
  • Parenting a parent as a child

Triggers

Women’s identities are so intertwined with ideas to be soft, pretty, and nurturing. And when bad things happen to us, we’re expected to be quiet, accept an apology (which we usually don’t even get), and move on.
Even the most empowered women are seen in the media being silenced and shunned. Regardless of your feelings on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)’s politics, think back to that event in 2020.

A woman sits across from a therapist with her hands together against her mouth. This could represent trauma therapy in Orange County, CA. Contact a trauma therapist for more info about EMDR therapy for trauma and other services.

She called out a state representative who had called her “disgusting” and a “b-word.” Someone talked down to one of the most confident, driven young women in American politics. And he went so far that he used his wife and daughters as an excuse for speaking to a human being like that. Thankfully, we see women like AOC standing up and fighting back against verbal abuse. But it should not be acceptable for a woman, or any person, to be spoken to in such a way.

The easiest thing for AOC to do in that instance was to keep quiet and let it go. It would have saved her from having to be vulnerable in front of the man who harassed her. And it would’ve made people more comfortable. It is still taboo for us as women to simply speak up for ourselves. And if that’s still such a problem, it makes sense that women would have complications from trauma. When we can’t live our authentic lives because we are not seen as equal, of course, we are going to encounter trauma. Being treated as less of a human only due to our gender is dangerous.

Results of Women’s Trauma

Each experiences the effects of trauma in different ways. But, there are a few ways that trauma exhibits itself that may be more noticeable in women.

  • Eating disorders/disordered eating
  • Body dysmorphia or body images issues
  • Low self-esteem or confidence
  • Anxiety
  • Being on-edge or alert
  • Depression
  • Emotional numbness or detachment
  • Avoiding people, places, or things because of triggers

Trauma Therapy and EMDR for Women

The range of traumatic experiences women face is often interwoven with one another. One thing happened first, then another experience complicated the unprocessed trauma. Without intervention, unprocessed trauma can lead to PTSD. This may occur through trauma therapy or Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR). Research shows that women have double the chance of developing PTSD than men. And we are said to experience PTSD and trauma symptoms for a longer period.

If we know this to be the case, then we better start processing this stuff! We know that it’s hard to talk about trauma. But, our skilled therapists can help you to process it all. Sometimes, that means that we don’t necessarily have to talk about all the details of your past using EMDR. It is a very effective form of therapy that helps you move forward from trauma.

EMDR Therapy for Trauma in Orange County, CA

EMDR therapy is unique. You can start EMDR with your therapist at any point during treatment. This means you can come in looking for this exact therapy, or you can start it later on in your treatment. Now, EMDR can sound a little funky at first. But I hope you’ll give it a chance.

A woman smiles brightly as a person with a clipboard sits across from them. This could represent trauma therapy in Orange County, CA. Contact a trauma therapist for support with online therapy for trauma, EMDR therapy and more.

In this form of therapy, you meet with an EMDR therapist. They will use back and forth hand movements to engage your eyes. Once your eyes are engaged, your brain “turns on.” The movement between your eyes helps awaken and stimulate your brain. The bilateral movement helps connect the two halves of your brain. Thus, creating an open pathway for communication.

Once this pathway is opened, your therapist may ask questions about a certain traumatic experience. You can talk with them throughout the session or you can keep a little quieter if you’d like. The goal of EMDR is to get memories that are “stuck” in the emotional side of your brain to move over to the logical side. Until a memory is processed and stored in the logical part of your brain, you can still suffer from triggers. So, EMDR aims to store painful memories in the logical part of the brain to lessen the emotional ties to it. Once you can think of a memory in a more logical way, you can more easily move forward from it.

Begin EMDR Trauma Therapy in Orange County, CA

Our caring therapists understand the complexities of trauma. Life is messy. And navigating the world as a woman is messy too. With that said, you deserve a chance to get support. You’ve been doing this on your own for so long. But you don’t have to any longer. Our Orange County, CA-based practice would love to support you. To reach out and start therapy, follow these steps:

  1. Schedule a free consultation
  2. Meet with a trauma therapist
  3. Start overcoming past trauma

Other Services Offered at Moxie Family Therapy

Trauma Therapy isn’t the only service that we offer in our Orange County Counseling practiceOther mental health services Moxie Family Therapy provides include, counseling for young adults, counseling for college students, couples counseling, counseling for teen girls, counseling for children, play therapy, art therapy, and family therapy. Contact our counseling practice to overcome the issues that matter most to you. Start getting your moxie back!

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