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- Trauma Therapist Near Me -

Trauma, PTSD & Trauma Focused Therapy

Trauma Therapy

An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour. Viktor Frankl


Many of us have had disturbing experiences that have changed the way we feel in the world. These traumatic events, whether big or small, can come in different forms, such as a single incident like an assault or accident, years of abuse, smaller things that bother us over time, or events from our early years with caregivers or in relationships that shaped us. Complex trauma involves multiple events that have had a lasting impact.



You may be experiencing anxiety, depression, conflict or disconnection in your relationships. You may be hyper aware of possible danger, or fixating on worries or details. You may find yourself checking out, feeling numb, leaving yourself or losing time. You may have difficulty trusting others, or feel judged by them. You may be dealing with guilt and shame. You may be experiencing chest tightness, stomach aches, nausea or digestive issues. You may be flooded with panic attacks, flash backs or intrusive thoughts. You may have lost your connection to joy. You may be overwhelmed by fear, sadness or anger. And you may wish you could feel safe and comfortable.

Why Don't I Feel Safe?

Trauma is about your wounds and how you experience them. These injuries can be difficult to live with because they rewrite how our body and brain interprets information. It can feel like a mine field of triggers. It can feel unsafe to feel things. You can lose trust in your own system, and think that who you are is somehow wrong.​


Healing on your own can be tough because you think you have to be different than who you are. You may even think you have to be a perfect version of yourself. But this perfect you doesn't exist so you get stuck.


How Can Therapy Help?

Therapy provides the safety to explore and heal. It validates why you are feeling the way you do. It allows you to show up for yourself and to understand that you are not wrong inside.


If you feel that something from your past is affecting your current life, trauma-focused therapy might be a good option for you. Our team offers in-person trauma therapy in Hamilton, and online sessions across Ontario.


What is Possible?

Peace, joy, and self-acceptance. ​

Resources to Better Understand The Experiencing of Trauma

Polyvagal Theory tells us that the state of our nervous system determines how safe and connected we feel as we move about in our daily lives. Some states lead to withdrawal and disconnection, while others promote curiosity, exploration and social engagement. The parasympathetic system is connected with being calm; and in our body we may notice that our breathing and pulse are both regulated, and our digestive system is comfortable. Our sympathetic system (adrenaline) puts us on high alert; and in our body we notice our heartbeat is quicker, we may be breathing differently (or even holding our breath a lot), eating and digesting is not so easy, and we are in safety mode

These two systems are in constant communication. Under normal circumstances, there is a balanced exchange of energy and information between these systems, working together harmoniously. However, when a threat is perceived, this dynamic changes. The body activates its primary survival response — fight or flight — preparing for immediate action.This response isn't always negative. Whether our ancestors were evading predators or we are dodging a fast-moving vehicle, heightened awareness, focus, and quick reactions are crucial for ensuring our safety. According to the theory, even after the threat has passed, our bodies can remain in a state of perceived danger, with our defenses still active. This can lead to prolonged stress and anxiety, with trauma becoming embodied, similar to how it is stored in our memories. Therefore, addressing trauma may involve more than just managing the emotional experience; it may also require addressing the resulting physiological responses. (NICABM, 2022; Bridges & Porges, 2015) 


The "Window of Tolerance" is another way of looking at this. It is a helpful concept in therapy that can assist you in understanding your emotional experiences, especially in times of stress or trauma. Imagine this window as your optimal zone where you can manage life's ups and downs with ease. When you're within this window, you can think clearly and cope with challenges effectively. However, when you're pushed beyond this zone, you might feel overwhelmed, anxious, or disconnected.




© 2023 Stephen W. Porges and Seth Porges, adapted from Our Polyvagal World.  Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

NICABM Infographic Window Of Tolerance

Dan Siegel's Window of Tolerance is a concept often used in the context of trauma to explain how individuals respond to overwhelming experiences. When a person is within their window of tolerance, they can process information and emotions in a balanced manner, enabling them to cope with challenges and maintain a sense of well-being. However, when a person exceeds their window of tolerance, they may experience intense emotions, leading to feelings of being overwhelmed or dysregulated.

 Traumatic experiences can push a person beyond their window of tolerance, causing them to become hyperaroused (e.g., anxious, angry) or hypoaroused (e.g., numb, dissociated). By recognizing these states, individuals can learn to identify when they are outside their window and develop strategies to regulate their emotions and return to a more balanced state. Therapists can also use this framework to guide their interventions, helping clients expand their window of tolerance through various techniques such as grounding exercises, mindfulness practices, and trauma-focused therapy. 


You may be familiar with fight, flight, freeze but have you heard of fawning and appeasing as a trauma response?


Fawning is a way we act when we're under severe duress. It's a defense mechanism. It's likely controlled by certain parts of our brain and body that deal with stress. When these parts are active, we're less able to connect with others and feel regulated. If we show fawning behaviour without positive social signals, the person causing the stress might think we're not interested, distant, or lying. This could make them more aggressive. (Polyvagal Institute, 2024)


Appeasement is different because it also involves our ability to connect with others. This lets us show signals to the person causing the stress that we're safe and can work together. This can make the person causing stress think we're on their side, which could help us survive the situation. Appeasement probably involves a mix of different parts of our brain and body that deal with stress, all working at the same time. It's like our brain detects the threat, but we can still send signals that we're friendly and can work together. These signals can help us to survive in tough or even extreme situations. (Polyvagal Institute, 2024)


Not everyone reacts this way to stress, and that's okay. Instead of judging people who do, it's better to understand that their body and brain are just trying to help them survive tough times.

Working with trauma means working with what the body is experiencing. The body holds a memory of your experiences, and when they are difficult experiences they are held in the mind and the body. This is not to torture us but rather to keep us safe from future danger. It is protective but it can also mean there is discomfort in an individual's daily living. 

Book Cover - The Body Keeps The Score

"The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk is a seminal work that explores the impact of trauma on the body and mind. Trauma, in this context, refers to experiences that overwhelm an individual's ability to cope, leaving them feeling helpless, terrified, or profoundly unsafe. These experiences can range from physical or sexual abuse to natural disasters, accidents, or witnessing violence. When a person experiences trauma, their body's stress response system can become dysregulated, leading to a range of physical and psychological symptoms.

One key concept in "The Body Keeps the Score" is that traumatic experiences are not only stored in the mind but also in the body. Van der Kolk argues that trauma can lead to a disconnection between mind and body, as individuals may dissociate or numb themselves to avoid the overwhelming sensations associated with the trauma. This disconnect can manifest in physical symptoms such as chronic pain, digestive issues, and autoimmune disorders, as well as psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Van der Kolk also emphasizes the importance of understanding trauma within the context of a person's life story and social environment. He discusses how factors such as childhood attachment patterns, cultural background, and social support can influence how a person responds to and recovers from trauma. Additionally, he explores various therapeutic approaches, such as EMDR, yoga, and neurofeedback, that aim to help individuals reconnect with their bodies and process the stored memories and sensations associated with trauma.

Therapist in Hamilton/Counselling in Hamilton/Therapy Near Me

Making Space Psychotherapy is committed to providing opportunities to work in-person or virtually to process trauma, and to create a safer-feeling and more enjoyable life.

Match with one of our Qualified Registered Psychotherapists now.

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