Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
It makes sense that you move away from, and try to avoid, triggers that remind you of past painful and traumatic events (e.g., a location where a trauma happened, a song or movie that reminds you of a stressful event). However, avoidance of those triggers can also be very painful by limiting what you feel able to do, if not altogether impossible, given how common triggers might be. Our minds are designed for survival, so they hang onto dangerous and scary events, even when the actual threat has passed.
I can help you move forward with your history as it is, instead of pursuing a futile agenda of trying to forget, or minimize, what happened in your past. Being told to forget about what happened can be invalidating and make life even harder, as our minds tend to think even more about what we are trying to ignore, despite our best efforts. Our minds are truly not our friends at times, although we can work together to have you form a new relationship with yours. Together, we will work to shift your relationship to your memories, and the triggers associated with them, so that you can live more freely and without restriction.
I do this work using Prolonged Exposure (PE), which is a gold standard treatment for PTSD. PE involves learning that trauma-related symptoms and triggers are uncomfortable, and not unsafe. In this therapy, we will talk about the traumatic event(s) you experienced in a safe and supportive space, which helps you learn that the event itself was threatening, and that the memory of it is painful, yet not unsafe. We will also identify behaviors and activities/situations that are important to you, yet that you may be avoiding to not be triggered (e.g., being in crowds, certain smells or songs). We will create a menu of the triggers you are avoiding that get in the way of your life, and create a plan to help you begin safely reengaging in them. Together, we can help you live a life that is more empowered, flexible and free, instead of one defined by avoidance of memories and triggers.
For more information, see the National Center for PTSD