Trauma Therapy in Charlotte, NC

Most of us are familiar with the trauma that can result from isolated, one-time events, like a bad car wreck, a violent assault, or exposure to war.

The trauma that receives less attention is the relational kind.

Relational trauma is not a single event. Instead, it usually occurs over a prolonged period of time, sometimes years or even decades.

What causes relationship trauma?

Interpersonal trauma often occurs during our childhood or adolescent years, resulting from relational experiences like…

  • Growing up with an emotionally distant or overly critical parent
  • Parents who consistently make you feel unsafe
  • Abandonment or disownment by a caregiver
  • Boundary crossings by guardians, church leaders, or other adults
  • A parent who struggles with mental illness or substance abuse

For many of us, there’s a tendency to minimize or downplay these kinds of childhood experiences. We struggle to see how something that happened so long ago could possibly still affect us as adults.

Truth is, though, that the relational patterns and attachment injuries we experience early on in life can ripple throughout our adult lives and relationships.

How does relationship trauma affect intimate relationships?

When our relationships with our parents or other caregivers go well, we develop expectations of safety and acceptance in our relationships with others. These healthy relationship patters in early life pave the way for fulfilling, long-lasting adult relationships.  

But healthy, fulfilling connection is much harder to achieve when your early-life relationships were unpredictable or consistently failed to meet your physical or emotional needs. The longer these patterns went on for us in our childhood relationships, the more likely we are to develop similar expectations of our adult relationships, and the more difficult it becomes to relate to ourselves and others in positive ways.    

Many of the folks we support around relationship trauma come to therapy carrying core self-beliefs that they’re fundamentally bad, not enough, worthless, or unlovable. They’re struggling to connect with feelings of safety and calmness as they move through the world and engage in intimate relationships. They’re trying to connect with others but having a hard time with trust and openness.  

With relationship trauma, intimate connection can feel like a never-ending tug of war between equally strong desires for closeness and distance. Openness and guardedness. Feeling and detaching. Connecting and retreating.  

It’s an exhausting tension, and it can make the possibility of developing close, healthy, satisfying relationships feel almost impossible.

Relationship trauma can show up in a lot of different ways:

  • A fear of rejection or abandonment that leads to you pushing partners away (or clinging too tightly)
  • Shrinking away from emotional closeness and vulnerability
  • Dread or discomfort around physical intimacy
  • Feelings of shame and worthlessness that limit you from advocating for your needs and wants
  • Unhealthy relationship patterns that make you feel unsafe or inadequate

Many of the folks we support around relationship trauma come to therapy carrying core self-beliefs that they’re fundamentally bad, not enough, worthless, or unlovable. They’re struggling to connect with feelings of safety and calmness as they move through the world and engage in intimate relationships. They’re trying to connect with others but having a hard time with trust and openness.  

With relationship trauma, intimate connection can feel like a never-ending tug of war between equally strong desires for closeness and distance. Openness and guardedness. Feeling and detaching. Connecting and retreating.  

It’s an exhausting tension, and it can make the possibility of developing close, healthy, satisfying relationships feel almost impossible.

How does trauma therapy help?

Not all forms of psychotherapy are effective when it comes to treating trauma. In fact, many traditional forms of therapy can make you feel worse. This is the reason why it’s so important to work with a therapist who understands trauma and has the clinical skills necessary to guide you through it safely.  

Interested in learning more about trauma and why it’s so important to work with a therapist who understands how to guide you through it safely? Check out this video on stress, trauma and the body.

At Modern Era, our therapists have completed extensive post-graduate training in trauma therapy and integrate a range of trauma-informed, science-based treatment approaches to get your body’s natural stress response back on track and help you feel calmer and more confident around love and intimacy.

In trauma therapy, we focus on helping you work through guilt, shame and other difficult emotions associated with traumatic stress from childhood. You’ll learn to access core qualities, such as courage and self-compassion, and use them to heal emotional pain connected to past trauma.

Counseling for relationship trauma is ultimately about helping you cultivate deeper, more fulfilling relationships. By the end of therapy, we want you to leave feeling confident and empowered to build and enjoy the close, passionate, long-lasting relationship you’ve always wanted.

Trauma is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Contact Modern Era Counseling today to take the first step toward deeper, more fulfilling connection.

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