When someone experiences or witnesses actual or threatened physical/sexual harm, the event can get lodged in the brain so that the past remains present.
People with a history of trauma typically attempt to keep it hidden whether because of shame or fear of remembering it. However, the trauma still finds a way to interfere with one’s daily life through creating symptoms such as flashbacks, depression, hypervigilance or disguising itself in addictions, excessive control behaviors, and even chronic health problems. Within the safety of counseling, clients can take the courageous steps to process the trauma so that it no longer defines their life.
Understanding the Effects of Trauma
It is not uncommon for someone with a trauma history to be high functioning for many years post-trauma until something triggers the traumatic event. When this occurs, the person often begins re-experiencing the vulnerability, powerlessness, sense of abandonment or shame just as acutely as they felt it at the time of the trauma. This produces a fight, flight, or freeze response that typically mimics the way the person coped during the original trauma. The person might be confused and ashamed by their strong reaction because it seems so uncharacteristic of them. Unfortunately, instead of seeking help, they may double down on their efforts to suppress their emotions and control their environment to avoid these triggers.
However, trying harder and criticizing yourself for not having better control over your response to the trauma tends to only make it harder to function and becomes a barrier to accepting help through counseling. With the help of a counselor trained in trauma work, it is possible to develop healthy coping strategies for managing triggers, build on your resources and resiliency, and resolve the source of the traumatic distress.
Seeking Support in Trauma Healing
If you have considered addressing trauma in your life, you may be afraid of being asked to talk about the memories in counseling. This is understandable, and in fact, it is not necessary for you to give any more details of the memories than you are comfortable with. The counselor must respect your boundary for when/whether you are ready to disclose this material. In fact, because trauma memories are composed mostly of emotions, physical sensations, and images, it is more important to work with these details rather than recounting everything that happened. The first and most important element of trauma counseling is developing a safe, predictable environment and trusting relationship with the counselor. This includes creating safety to experience your emotions and notice your internal world without becoming overwhelmed by it. This is best done with a counselor present to help you manage your triggers.
When you and your counselor agree that you are ready to begin reprocessing the traumatic material, the counselor will ensure that you maintain a sense of safety and awareness of being present with the counselor so that you are not re-traumatized and can return to functioning throughout the week. This could be some of the most rewarding work you pursue to reduce the power that the trauma has on your daily life.
Hope for Healing
If you have repeatedly become frustrated with yourself for having strong emotional reactions that seem out of place, there is a good chance you are still living out of painful memories that are frozen in time. When these memories can be processed, it opens you up to recognize resources and gain new perspectives. The shame, fear, or powerlessness can be dissipated, and for once, you may feel equipped to develop healthier relationships.
Choosing The Right Therapist
Related Therapist Profiles
The following therapists specialize in Trauma Recovery
Marissa Cummings, Intern Therapist
Marissa is working on her Master of Social Work degree through Rochester Wesleyan University (expected May of 2024). She has experience working with children, teens, and adults within past internships and job experiences at community centers and social service agencies. She is hoping to gain more insight and practice during her time with Cherry Hill.
Valerie Dobrow, MSW
Valerie utilizes a strengths-based approach when working with children, adolescents, teens, and young adults. She has specialized training in Trauma-Focused CBT and play therapy techniques. She strives to empower clients to focus on reaching their goals through therapeutic techniques and skills development.
Veronica Gillen, MSW, LSW
Veronica Gillen is a licensed social worker with a Masters Degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania with an emphasis on trauma informed care and strengths-based recovery support. Veronica is a bilingual therapist and provides services in both English and Spanish. Veronica enjoys working with women, children, and teens as well as families.
Cris Goodfellow, Intern Therapist
Cris is an intern therapist, seeking completion of her Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University (Graduation May 2024). Cris is passionate about working with teens and adults, couples, and families, helping all people to seek individual and relational health.
John DeArvil, MSW
John studied psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and earned his master’s degree in social work from Loyola University Chicago. He has experience working with adolescents, adults, and families in outpatient and residential treatment settings. John is motivated to work with people to help them progress towards their goals and see genuine improvement.
Shannon Landon, MS, MFT
Shannon is a passionate couple and family therapist who earned her M.S. in human development and family sciences at Northern Illinois University. Her background includes work with adolescents, adults, couples, and families in both outpatient and residential treatment settings. She enjoys supporting adults recovering from childhood trauma and couples looking to form more satisfying relationships.
Deb Landeene, Intern Therapist
Deb is a Master’s level counseling intern from Concordia University Chicago. She provides treatment to clients of all ages, but has a passion for working with adolescents and their parents. She is a wife and a mother to 2 grown children. She enjoys her animals, gardening and making jewelry. Deb considers herself a life-long learner.
Caitie McCormack, Intern Therapist
Caitie is a Master’s level counseling intern from Concordia University Chicago. She works with individuals, ages 16+, and couples of all genders on a wide range of concerns, with a particular focus on female sexuality, coping with female sexual pain disorders, and religious and medical trauma. Coming from the male-dominated business world, Caitie strives to empower women and their choices. She embodies down-to-earth discussion where nothing is taboo.
Juan Torres, MSW, LSW, CADC
Juan is a Licensed Social Worker in the State of Illinois and can provide services in both English and Spanish. He specializes in treating substance use disorders and mood disorders. He works with adolescents and adults in both individual and group settings.
Michael Albert, MA, LCPC
Michael is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the State of Illinois. He has nearly 2 decades of experience in the mental health field. He has provided services in many different settings including agency and hospital settings before private practice. Michael works well with a broad age range of clients, but has a special affinity for adolescents and young adults.
Emily Nikfar, MSW, LSW
Emily is a recent graduate from the Tulane School of Social Work, where she completed her MSW and had a concentration in Mental Health, Addiction, and Family Therapy. She has a background in Theater Arts and received her BA in Acting from Columbia College Chicago.
Clark Barshinger, Ph.D.
Practicing clinical psychology for over 50 years, Dr. Clark Barshinger has broad and deep experience counseling patients. His graduate education includes a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from DePaul University, and Master’s Degree of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary. He works mostly with adults, teens and couples.
Leslie Scofield, MSW, LCSW, CADC
Leslie Scofield, MSW, LCSW, CADC is a Licensed Social Worker who has worked in the field of substance abuse for over 15 years. Her practice ranges from children to adults, and focuses on trauma, grief and loss, family issues, and addictions. She is passionate about working with groups. Leslie is also retired from military service, which informs her clinical perspective.
Michelle Schaefer, MA, LCPC, PMHC
Michelle Schaefer, LCPC, has experience working with adults, couples, teens, and families. Michelle has an advanced certification in Perinatal Mental Health and specialized training in Emotionally Focused Therapy for individuals, couples, and families. Michelle strives to create a secure client-therapist alliance in order to support people as they navigate life challenges and heal relationships.
Patrick Kelly, MA, LCPC, CCATP
Patrick’s mission as a Licensed Professional Counselor is to utilize his diverse life experience and graduate-level education to make a positive difference in the lives of struggling and hurting people. His passion is working with troubled marriages along with helping individuals cope with and rise above anxiety and depression brought about by life’s challenges and difficulties.
Maria Statkus Ritchey, MA, LCPC, CCATP-CA
Maria is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Maria is enthusiastic about working with different populations, including children, adolescents, young adults, and families. Maria has experience utilizing non-directive play therapy and her approach is client-centered based, while integrating client strengths within the process.
Liz Lattof, MA, LCPC, CCATP
As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at Cherry Hill Liz works with a wide variety of clients, children, adolescents, families, and adults. She has additional training in play therapy and groups. She enjoys helping people with anxiety, depression, grief, relationship issues, and other challenges and transitions.
John Dichtl, MA, M.Div., LCPC
John Dichtl has worked as a counselor since 2012 in both agency work and private practice. He has focused experience providing couples counseling, and treating mood disorders and addictions. With graduate level training in both therapy and theology, John is uniquely equipped to help clients integrate their psychological and spiritual concerns.
Wayne Corapi, MS, LMFT
Wayne is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist whose passion is helping couples in relationship distress find healing and connection. Married for 40+ years and trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy, he is dedicated to using his experience and training to help couples find a deeper level of satisfaction and emotional intimacy in their relationship.
Risa Becker, MA, LPC
Risa is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has a passion for seeing people come into the fullness of what their life could be. Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn, and having someone alongside can make a difference. Other times we need to make a change and need support to make that happen. Either way, I am here for you.
Haley Kramer Kaimakis, MS, LPC
Haley has a master’s degree from Marquette University. She has experience working with young children and their families to address various issues such as trauma, behavioral problems, and emotion regulation. Haley has a passion for working with children ages 6 and younger. Haley believes in emphasizing a client’s strengths and advocating for their needs.
Arielle Miree, MA, LPC
Arielle received her M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University. She has a passion for helping people heal and grow in order to live a meaningful life. She values authentic relationships and creating a safe space for clients. She has experience working with those struggling with addictions and co-occurring disorders. Arielle enjoys working with a variety of clients including athletes and artists.
Alison Yu, MA, M.Div., LCPC
Alison Yu, M.Div, MA, LPC, is a bilingual (English and Mandarin Chinese) counselor who is experienced working with individuals, couples and families. She has a special heart for immigrant families. Trained in both psychology and theology, she is passionate about helping people to integrate the Christian faith in their healing process.
Justin Feinberg, MA, M.Div., LPC
Justin’s Graduate education includes both a Master’s degree in Mental Health counseling as well as a Master’s of Divinity from Trinity International University. He works with individuals, couples, and families and has a heart to see relationships flourish and people become who they were meant to be. He has training in Emotionally Focused Therapy and utilizes this toward helping marriages, families, and individuals thrive.
Debbie Levine, MSW, LSW
Debbie has worked in both the medical and clinical fields and has amassed much experience helping people navigate their unique life journeys. Her preferred therapeutic approaches include CBT, holistic and mindfulness.
Jessica Pinder, MSW, LCSW
Jessica is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Illinois with advanced practice skills serving adults with substance use disorders, depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder in addition to traumatic brain injury of various levels of severity and co-existing mental health conditions. She is passionate about human growth and development and has strong generalist competency working with individuals with a wide range of mental health needs.
Katy Robb, MSW, LCSW
Katy Robb is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and received her master’s degree in social work from the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. She has over a decade of training and experience treating individuals across the lifespan in community-based services, college counseling, and private practice. Katy has been recognized for her work building a community college mental health center.
Emily Salomon, MS.Ed., LPC
Emily earned her MS.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Northern Illinois University. Emily holds deep value for the safe space that exists within the therapeutic relationship. She embraces the importance of being provided with new lenses with which a client may see the world a bit differently.
Elaine Iwicki, MA, ALMFT
Elaine has an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Wheaton College. She enjoys working with adolescents, adults, families, and couples. She believes that relationship health is crucial to healing and she is passionate about being a part of that healing process.
Patti E. Krivo, MSW, LCSW
Patti is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with decades of experience in the mental health field. Patti specializes in work with trauma recovery and PTSD as well as the impacts of those experiences on family relationships.
Diann Pomeroy, M.Ed., LPC
Diann has an M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling from DePaul University. She has a passion for working with women, supporting them across the lifespan as they navigate continuous change and transition. She believes that all parents need support in the parenting journey at every stage and considers being a part of that process a great privilege.
April Wazny, MA, LPC
April Wazny received her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Liberty University. She is passionate about working with children, adolescents and families. She has over 10 years experience working with children, families, blended families, trauma, Autism Spectrum Disorder, special needs and special needs parental support. She has 21 years of experience with Military families.
Julie Berry, MA
Julie is passionate about working with women, young adults, and individuals helping them find the power within themselves to navigate any struggle they may be facing. She loves forming a strong trusted relationship with her client. She focuses on helping people name their struggles or pains and identify ways to take action toward healing and wholeness. She believes we can learn from life’s experiences as helpful information to understanding ourselves more.