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.

Related Therapist Profiles

The following therapists specialize in Trauma Recovery

Juan Torres, MSW, LSW, CADC

Chicago | Vernon Hills

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

Grayslake | Vernon Hills

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

Chicago | Deer Park

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.

Lake Zurich | McHenry

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

Vernon Hills

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

Grayslake

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

McHenry

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

Deer Park | Wheaton | Chicago

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

Deer Park | Lake Zurich

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

Vernon Hills | Lake Zurich

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

Lake Zurich

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

McHenry

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

Deer Park

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

Deer Park

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., LPC

Vernon Hills

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

Grayslake

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.

Raul Bravo, MA, LPC

Vernon Hills

Raul Bravo is a Licensed Professional Counselor, with an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He is bilingual (English and Spanish) and has experience working with adolescents and adults. He has worked with families struggling with trauma-related issues by helping them identify meaning and strength. His therapeutic approach includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Person-Centered Therapy.

Debbie Levine, MSW, LSW

Vernon Hills

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

Vernon Hills

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

Vernon Hills

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

Deer Park

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

Wheaton

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

Vernon Hills

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

McHenry | Grayslake

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.

Kimari Collier, MSW

Grayslake

Kimari earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia. Through the beginning of her career she has worked in a variety of clinical settings, from supporting children in the foster care system, to providing treatment resources for military veterans. Kimari is thrilled to be on this new journey to treat more diverse populations in private practice.

April Wazny, MA

McHenry | Vernon Hills

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.

Kristin Hunt, MSW, LCSW, MAT

Grayslake

Kristin Hunt, LCSW, has a passion for helping individuals, couples, and families to heal from various types of trauma. Kristin's warm, safe, and non-judgmental presence makes her a great companion for people on a journey of recovery and wellness. She works with clients of all ages including individuals, couples, and families.

Nicole Taylor, MS.Ed., LPC

Deer Park | McHenry

Nicole is a licensed therapist who is passionate about working with children, adolescents, and young adults. She specializes in anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.

Julie Berry, Intern Therapist

Grayslake

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.

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