Relational Trauma Therapy

Do You Have A Hard Time Trusting Or Feeling Close To Others?

upset man sitting down on a bed opposite from a womanIs a toxic relationship dynamic from your past compromising your ability to connect in the present? Has a fear of rejection or abandonment kept you from meaningfully connecting with those around you? And do you have a hard time believing people when they express acceptance and love for you?\

From my perspective as a therapist specializing in trauma, all traumas can be relational because they often involve humans hurting other humans. If a wounding experience from your past has caused you to feel unworthy of the love and attention you deserve, you are not alone.

Did Someone From Your Past Hurt You Or Break Your Trust?

You may be a survivor of neglect or emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Especially if that abuse or neglect happened in childhood, you might have never had strong models for healthy, loving relationships as you grew. As a result, you may have a hard time maintaining social, romantic, and intimate connections in your life today.

If you find yourself questioning your worth or lovability, you may become overly avoidant or clingy in your relationships. Instead of feeling secure in yourself, you might derive much of your value from what others think. And perhaps you don’t engage in social or romantic relationships at all out of fear of rejection.

Yet, what you fear the most is being alone. As worried as you are about how you are perceived by those around you, you yearn to feel safe and connected in your community. Luckily, therapy is a transformative opportunity to identify and address relational trauma. By working with a supportive therapist, you can heal some of the wounds you have endured and learn how to trust others—and yourself—again.

Childhood Traumas Can Impact Us For A Lifetime

african american boy standing behind a fenceWhen we grow up in environments that are not safe or effective in modeling healthy relationship behaviors, our emotions are not likely to be honored. Many of us may have been told we were “too sensitive” or “too emotional” when seeking safety, nurturance, and repair. And unfortunately, the communities we live in often perpetuate this cycle of trauma.

No matter how much distance we may put between ourselves and the people who hurt us in the past, however, those unhealthy relationship dynamics can follow us throughout our lives. If left unchecked, relational trauma can result in post-traumatic stress, addictive behaviors, mental health conditions like anxiety and/or depression, and significant interpersonal challenges.

Relational Trauma Is More Common In Historically Marginalized Communities

Systemic limitations make some of us more susceptible to trauma than others. For those of us from minority backgrounds—including women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ identifying populations—we are more likely to experience interpersonal wounds that compromise our ability to trust. These wounds can range from childhood abuse, assault, racist microaggressions, and religious rejection. For communities of color, in particular, intergenerational relational traumas continue to impact families over the course of their lineage.

When we feel rejected by our community, the place where we look to seek shelter and solace, it can be incredibly isolating. Yet a therapist specializing in childhood, interpersonal, racial, and religious trauma can be the key to connection. Working together in trauma treatment, we can heal relational wounds in a way that will better shape all of your interpersonal experiences.

Trauma Is Viewed Through A Relational Lens At Centering Healing

Relational trauma often skews our self-perception, but therapy is an opportunity to redefine your understanding of and role in your community as you learn to connect with your healed, authentic self. In counseling, you can explore which communities will allow you to feel empowered and secure in who you are, whether that community is your family of origin or your chosen family.

What To Expect

Early on in treatment, I will help you understand the role that relational trauma has had in your life. Through psychoeducation, you can see why it’s difficult for survivors to ask for help, receive love, and feel secure in their relationships. During this time, I will help you get in touch with physical sensations so you can begin to identify where stored trauma is being held in the body.

As an attachment-oriented therapist, my primary objective is to guide you in identifying and managing triggers so that you can respond from a place of wisdom rather than fear. As you increase your skills for emotional regulation, you will learn more effective ways of getting your needs met. And instead of downplaying your experiences as you have been taught or conditioned to, you can learn to honor your feelings.

The therapeutic relationship itself will be our most useful tool in therapy for relational trauma. Working together, you can foster the sense of security, trust, and belonging that has been missing from your life. You matter, and you deserve to feel worthy of love. Therapy can be the gateway to a new sense of self-empowerment and acceptance.

Still Unsure If You Would Benefit From Treatment?

Is therapy really effective at healing relational trauma? How does it work?

Many of us aren’t equipped with the tools we need to meaningfully slow down and feel present and aware in our bodies. Therapy allows us to stop, take stock of our experiences, and identify the triggers that make us feel emotionally unsafe.

Early sessions together will be spent getting to know your unique nervous system. As I learn more about your trauma history and stress response, I will help you connect the dots between certain patterns so that you can begin to make transformative, lasting changes. With this insight, you will be better prepared to slow down and regulate when activated.

I’ve gone to treatment for relational trauma before and it didn’t work. How will you be different?

Each relational trauma is unique to the person who survived it, so it’s essential to take a highly customized approach in treatment. Many therapists take a one-size-fits-all developmental and relational approach to trauma therapy, failing to honor each client’s individual strengths, skills, and experience. Furthermore, common treatment methods like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) don’t do the deep work of addressing attachment wounds.

My approach to therapy for relational trauma works its way to the core issue (rather than addressing surface-level symptoms) by resolving trauma in the body and repairing attachment injuries from childhood. This allows my clients to access all parts of themselves so they can feel their feelings fully and authentically without getting overwhelmed.

Even though my community causes me pain, I don’t want to leave it.

Whether you come from a dysfunctional family or strict religious background, you may feel as though your community has contributed to some of the feelings of insecurity and rejection you’ve encountered. That said, it is ultimately up to you what kind of relationship you want to have with your community. Regardless of what you decide, therapy can help you decide what is best for you and use your voice to assert your needs.

You Don’t Have To Suffer In Isolation Any Longer

Relational traumas from the past often impact our daily life and relationships today, but therapy can help you heal and reconnect. To find out more about my approach to trauma treatment in general, visit my Trauma Therapy page. Otherwise, you can contact me to get started. Treatment is available to residents in California, Florida, and Israel.

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