This article is detailing how to process trauma. You might be someone who has experienced a traumatic event at some point in your life. Whether recently, or in your past, the symptoms of trauma are continuing to affect you in your everyday life. You may be struggling with basic daily functioning as a result of traumatic experiences and associated symptoms.


In your search for support, we’re hoping you’ve come across trauma therapy in Simi Valley, Ca. You’re ready to begin healing from trauma, and develop important coping skills and techniques to reconnect with yourself. However, it’s important to understand exactly how trauma therapy and treatment works before you consider diving into the process.


In trauma treatment, you will be processing past traumatic incidents. This is different from talk therapy, as it typically occurs in 3 alternating stages. It is an ongoing, non-linear, delicate process. There are critical aspects for effective trauma processing, such as working with an experienced, trauma-informed clinician who you can trust. 


Trauma therapy near Thousand Oaks, Ca matches you with a trauma-informed therapist, who is ready to begin supporting you through this journey. Make sure to read our blog called, What is Trauma Therapy?


How to Process Trauma: Introduction to trauma

a veteran struggling with ptsd is in need of trauma therapy in simi valley ca

Trauma is a broad topic that most people don’t fully understand. When we typically think of “trauma” we think of combat veterans returning home from war, near-death experiences, or an extremely disturbing or harmful event. However, it’s important to know that trauma symptoms can manifest years, sometimes decades, after the event itself. The event could have been as simple as falling off your bike and scraping your knee as a child.


Combat, natural disasters, car accidents, violence, assault, or ongoing abuse are significant, traumatic experiences. However, what more accurately determines if events are traumatic or not is based upon several factors. This includes your support systems, your inner dialogue, your view of the world, etc. 


Additionally, those who have experienced what is called “complex” or compounded trauma, typically have been exposed to ongoing trauma. This is either consistently or at intervals throughout their lives. Therefore, it must be treated and considered differently in therapy than isolated events being processed.


Symptoms of trauma include the following:


  •  Intrusive symptoms such as flashbacks, distressing memories and/or dreams.


  • Avoidance symptoms, such as efforts to avoid reminders of trauma or avoidance of feelings related to trauma.


  • Changes in your thinking and mood, such as inability to remember details of the traumatic event, negative beliefs about yourself, or feeling detached from others.


  • Arousal symptoms, such as hypervigilance (excessive awareness of your surroundings), problems concentrating, and irritability. 


The effects of trauma can be pervasive and distressing, and can often be misdiagnosed as “anxiety” or “depression.” You may even view the world, and yourself, differently after it. 


Healing from trauma can be a confusing, distressing journey. However, it can also be very empowering and informative. It’s important to be knowledgeable before beginning the process of trauma therapy. This is so that you know what you can expect of the process, your therapist, and yourself. It is essential to work with a professional who is well-informed about trauma treatment, assessment and has extensive experience working with trauma.


Trauma therapy in Simi Valley, Ca is passionate about providing you with a sense of safety and stability throughout your therapeutic journey. Make sure to read our blog on How to Be Vulnerable.


How to Process Trauma: 3 stages of processing

Processing trauma generally occurs in 3 stages. With your experienced trauma therapist, you can expect to navigate these 3 stages together. It is an intentionally slow process that goes at your own pace. Trauma treatment cannot, and should not, be rushed. Rushing it can be harmful, re-traumatizing, and unethical.


Stage 1: Safety and Stabilization 


two people supporting each other as one of them experiences loss and needs grief therapy in simi valley

Starting off, your therapist will want to help you build toward environmental safety and stabilization in several aspects. This may include:


  • Forming healthy and supportive relationships.


  • Being in a consistent living situation.


  • Working toward increased financial stability.


Do your current living conditions, relationships, or general well-being need to be addressed? If so, trauma processing should not be at the forefront of your therapy, initially. In order to process trauma, these aspects need to be focused on at the start of your therapeutic journey. Your therapist should be a source of support, information, and guidance in this process. Also, they should also feel like a safe person for you to be vulnerable with. Alert your therapist if you feel that the process is moving too quickly and that a solid foundation hasn’t been established.


In addition, your therapist will introduce you to a foundational internal tools for regulating your nervous system and emotions. It is essential to spend a good deal of time building regulatory and coping skills first. This way, you can be prepared to face difficult emotions and memories in stage 2 of treatment. If this first step is not addressed, trauma treatment can actually be further activating or traumatic itself.


Stage 2: Remembering and Mourning 


a woman reconnecting with nature after her therapist from therapy in simi valley, ca told her to do so

After stage 1 is secured with an overall, basic sense of safety and stability, both in your daily life and in therapy sessions, stage 2 can begin. During this stage, your therapist will guide you in safely piecing your traumatic experiences together with a cohesive narrative.


During this stage of treatment, you’ll be accessing memories that may be buried, suppressed, or avoided. Because of this, it is crucial to understand that trauma processing is an intentionally slow-paced experience. Also, you should be in the driver’s seat determining what feels right for you. Open communication with your therapist is key to productive treatment!


Stage 2 may take a significant amount of time depending upon how deeply rooted or chronic the trauma. It can be especially difficult for certain populations, such as those who are part of marginalized communities that routinely experience chronic trauma and may be in a constant state of crisis due to many obstacles and limitations imposed upon them. 


Another example of individuals who trauma processing may be difficult for are:

  • Children or adolescents who are too young to fully understand what trauma processing entails.
  • Those who return home to environments that are unstable, unsafe, or out of their control.


Many people often desire to rush through the stage of remembering and recounting traumatic experiences to “quickly” resolve the trauma. Keep in mind that remembering and mourning your experiences happens slowly over time depending on what your life allows. Therefore, it is perfectly appropriate and acceptable. 


Your therapist will help track your observable cues of activation, guide you in picking up on these indicators of distress, and support you in using the foundational skills learned in the first stage of treatment. Trauma lives in our bodies – in short, remembering traumatic experiences can stir up physiological symptoms related to fight, flight, and freeze responses. 


However, this time around, you’ll learn to have control over regulating your body, emotions, and nervous system, as well as many of the outside factors you might not have been able to control during the trauma itself. During this stage, the two hemispheres of your brain are simultaneously activated while discussing trauma; over time and with practice regulating your mind and body’s “typical” responses, this exercise helps integrate trauma into the cohesive narrative discussed above. This allows your brain and body to react differently to stimuli that would typically trigger what is called a trauma response. Your therapist will be there to support you.


Stage 3: Reconnection


a man finally feeling free of stress from trauma thanks to trauma therapy near simi valley

You and your therapist will work collaboratively to understand the stages of trauma treatment and what is best for you. Once you and your therapist deem it appropriate, you may be encouraged to join trauma treatment groups to connect with others of similar backgrounds or experiences. This stage of “reconnection” is meant to help you connect with the rest of the world, and more fully integrate your traumatic experiences while in the presence of others who can witness, validate, and accept you.


The goal is to view the world, yourself, and your experiences through a healthier lens. During this stage, empowerment is one of the key focuses, as we so often feel disempowered by trauma. You may find yourself feeling more in control of your life and relationships as you continue to explore ways to set healthy boundaries, prioritize self-care over people-pleasing, and more. 


Reconnecting with yourself comes with troubleshooting how you used to live in the world with your trauma, prior to trauma processing. In stage three, you can learn to find healthier relationships with yourself and others in new, productive ways. For instance, many trauma survivors find volunteering, public speaking, or mentoring as ways to use their traumatic experiences to find peace and fulfillment through connecting with others of similar backgrounds.


If you’re curious about trauma treatment, and googling “trauma therapy near me”, look no further than New Leaf Marriage & Family Therapy in Simi Valley!


How to Process Trauma: Who to work with

a therapist listening to her client during a therapy in simi valley, ca session

Now that you’ve learned a bit about what exactly trauma is, and what trauma processing looks like, where do you begin? How do you know who to work with, and ensure it’s the right fit for you? First, understand that trauma processing is not always appropriate or clinically ethical. 


This is because therapists do not want to re-traumatize you, as trauma processing can actually compound and stir trauma reactions back up. Without the proper skills to manage it, you may be experiencing more distress and find it difficult to cope. 


Therapists specializing in trauma treatment and assessment will gently guide you into understanding if this therapy is right for you. They will also successfully support you through this process. Therefore, it’s crucial to work with someone who has a clear understanding and expertise in this area. 


If you’re not sure where to begin, consider calling us today for a free consultation for trauma therapy near Thousand Oaks, Ca. We are glad to meet you in-person therapy for trauma.


In-person therapy in Simi Valley is ideal for those seeking a separate, safe space from their home. Check out our blog on Online Therapy or In Office Therapy to understand what format is best for you. Another great blog to read is ours on if you need Therapy or Medication to address your issues.


By seeking out support, you can begin your journey to feeling relief. You don’t have to go through finding the right level of support alone, either. 


Consider calling our therapy group at (805) 774-1506 for a free consultation on how you or a loved one can get started today!

Seek out a validating, safe environment with us today. We will help you get to where you want to be. Our therapists provide trauma therapy, teen therapy, individual adult therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, family therapy, and more in-office in Simi Valley, CA.

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