Trauma and PTSD

Sex addiction FAQDebra is a nationally recognized trauma therapist. She specializes in treating trauma including Post- Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD), sexual abuse, traumatic stress/personality disorders and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (CPTSD). Within the safety of a supportive, therapeutic relationship clients explore their betrayals in early childhood attachment and create a new sense of safety toward self care and healing.This includes working to:

  • Explore childhood neglect and abandonment.
  • Successfully regulate and integrate emotions and bodily sensations.
  • Allow yourself to feel emotions and stressors that were previously too overwhelming to handle.
  • Respond and not react to stressors and triggers in your life.

Debra is an advanced level (Certified) clinician in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and utilizes this modality with great success to treat unresolved traumatic events including , Post-Traumatic Stress disorder, dissociative symptoms, and emotional dysregulation. Her clients have learned effective and successful tools in creating inner emotional safety and trust.

(Watch EMDR Interview with Debra Kaplan on PBS)

“Learning to create a sense of inner safety and calm is an integral step in helping to restore emotional regulation.”

What is Complex Post Traumatic Stress

Complex Post Traumatic Stress is trauma that involves breaches to a childhood secure bonding with a parent or caregiver.  This insecure or fragile bond with a parent often results in an insecure attachment with those around us. Advances in our understanding about the effects of traumatic stress on the mind and body along with how unresolved trauma is experienced and stored in the body have led to changes in how clinicians and researchers refer to it. The old, negative label of Borderline personality disorder is a controversial diagnosis that was closely associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The nomenclature of BPD is often used in a diminishing reference to those who struggle with the issue. Further, the diagnosis of BPD is more a description of behaviors than an accurate definition of the trauma. These include: CPTSD/Borderline

  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships (professional and personal)
  • Chronic sense of loneliness and emptiness
  • Self-mutilating behaviors (also known as para-suicidal behavior)
  • Chronic fear of abandonment and rejection
  • Unstable mood; inappropriate anger that is reactive and rageful
  • Impulsive behaviors; specifically in areas regarding sex, food, and spending

As a result of newer research in neurobiology and mindful integration more is understood as to its biological, psychological and social origins. Since PTSD does not speak to nor take into consideration traumatic experiences endured in early childhood, a newer more current description of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) does address and speak to the ensuing problems that can later surface as a result of unresolved, early trauma. Along with the previously delineated behaviors an individual may go on to experience elements of identity and relationship disturbance.

To learn more watch Allan Schore on Neurobiology of Secure Attachment

Understanding Complex Post-Traumatic Stress (CPTSD)

As Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D., so eloquently wrote, “compulsive repetition of the trauma usually is an unconscious process that, although it may provide a temporary sense of mastery or even pleasure, ultimately perpetuates chronic feelings of helplessness and a subjective sense of being bad and out of control. Gaining control over one’s current life, rather than repeating trauma in action, mood, or somatic states, is the goal of treatment.” 1 Within the CPTSD constellation, self-injurious acts are as consistent as the emotional inconsistency that drives them. In other words, a traumatized individual makes repeated attempts to gain control over feelings of being out of control. Concomitant with substance abuse and compulsive and/or impulsive sexual behavior is the exchange between one’s sense of victim and perpetrator that is chronically reenacted in pendulating measures of eating disorders (ED) and self-injurious behavior.

Origins of Trauma Repetition

Repeated exposure to chronic adverse childhood experiences induces behavioral and physiologic changes. It is known that the developing brain under extreme inexorable distress will undergo changes in neurotransmitter activity. Children, particularly newborns and infants “who have been exposed to severe, prolonged environmental stress, will experience extraordinary increases in both catecholamine and endogenous opioid responses to subsequent stress.” 2 We also know that a newborn’s attunement to the world is externally focused. The incoming stimuli is stored in and controlled by the lower segments of the developing brain such as the thalamus and the amygdala. The amygdala considered to be a part of the limbic system, performs the crucial and fundamental role in the establishment of memories associated with emotional events. The system’s primary function is to maintain appropriate levels of arousal; too little stimuli and the neurons cannot register. If there is too much stimuli the newborn’s sensory signals become overloaded thus inducing system disorganization and temporary “collapse.” In brief, a newborn’s caregiver must regulate arousal states until the infant’s developing system can self-regulate internal and external states of arousal. As a result of early uncontrolled arousal states abused children tend to manifest a higher threshold of stimulation of the endogenous opioid system in order to self-soothe. This is in comparison to those whose early developmental experiences were met with consistent early nurturing.[1/2] Van der Kolk, B. The Compulsion to Repeat the Trauma: Re-enactment, Revictimization, and Masochism. Psychiatric Clinics North Am 1989;12(2):389-411

Held or Holding?Debra Can Help You

Traumatic events and the associated symptoms are often triggered by energy that remains stuck in your body.  Releasing that stored energy can only happen when the earlier and unresolved trauma is processed or resolved.  Debra helps you restore health and happiness to your life by sourcing and processing the original trauma. Using EMDR, Behavioral changes, Inner Child work, and Family-of-Origin work Debra helps you resolve the previously frozen or stuck residue of energy that wrecks havoc on your mind, your body, your life!

What If I Don’t Know Where My Trauma Comes From?

You don’t have to know or ever identify the origins of the trauma. The question is no longer,”WHY do I feel the way I do,” but rather, “AM I willing to feel differently and not just survive?” What is important is how your mind and body have been immobilized by unconscious experiences and memories that are stored and locked in your nervous system. Unlocking the traumatic stress and the associated symptoms is the key to achieving emotional equilibrium and calm whether the memories and experiences are conscious or unconscious.

Call Debra Today