How To Heal from Past Relationship Trauma
A bad relationship can cause lingering trauma. Relationship trauma occurs when an intimate relationship has involved physical, psychological or sexual abuse. Relationship trauma can affect a person’s everyday life.
Many traumatized people find it hard to trust and have difficulty getting romantically involved with a person even if they like them. Letting go of the past is not easy, especially when recovering from a bad relationship.
How Relationship Trauma Can Affect a Person’s Life
Trauma can wreak havoc in the life of a person recovering from a bad relationship. A traumatized person tends to experience intense emotions. They often socially isolate themselves. Many traumatized people have difficulty trusting even those people whom they have trusted in the past.
When Does Relationship Trauma Occur?
Physical abuse is not the only cause of relationship trauma. It can also be caused by emotional and psychological abuse which may involve:
- One partner purposely humiliating the other
- One partner making degrading comments about the other in private or public
- The abuser constantly criticizing the other person
- One partner making the other partner feel guilty for things that aren’t their fault
- One partner trying to control the other’s life by telling them what they can and can’t do
Relationship Trauma Symptoms
Relationship trauma is often characterized by low self-esteem. A traumatized person may apologize excessively, have unwanted or obsessive thoughts, and may have trouble concentrating and focusing.
Here are some common relationship trauma signs
- Repetitive and unwanted flashbacks related to traumatic incidents
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Sleep disturbances and nightmares
- Trust issues
- Feelings of suspicion. They often carry the burden of the past and are hypervigilant when interacting with people
Tips to Let Go of the Past
Here are some ways to break the shackles of trauma
- Make a commitment to let go: The first step towards letting go is realizing that you cannot let past experiences overshadow your future and make a commitment to let go of your past.
- Feel the feelings: Experiences from your past can evoke powerful thoughts and emotions. Instead of fighting these emotions, feel them so you can process what actually went wrong. You can share your feelings with a friend or your therapist.
- Get help: If you are unable to stop a negative cycle of thoughts on your own, it makes sense to give individual counseling a try. The main aim of counseling is to equip traumatized people with the skills required to cope with overwhelming thoughts and emotions.
- Practice mindfulness: Learn to focus on what’s happening in the present. Try to find joy in your everyday life, make time for the things that matter, get out of your house more often to spend time in nature and make meditation a part of your daily routine.
- Think before reacting: Before reacting to a situation, take a moment and think of the consequences of your action. This will take some practice, but you will eventually get there.
How Can Therapy Help?
If you are trying to heal from relationship trauma, consider giving therapy a try. Therapists are trained to help their clients discover things about them they didn’t know. They use their skills and expertise to help people let go of emotional baggage from a bad relationship.
The focus of trauma therapy is to understand how relationship trauma affects the person’s psyche, behavior and emotional and mental wellbeing.
Therapists use a range of techniques to get to the root cause of trauma and address it. During therapy sessions, therapists conduct various exercises and may ask their clients questions about their feelings, emotions and thoughts. The purpose of these exercises is to help the person learn new coping skills that they can use to identify triggers and avoid them.
In therapy, you will learn anxiety management skills and relaxation strategies. You will learn new ways to build resilience and bounce back from your traumatic experience. Your therapist will also help you identify ways to better understand, process and cope with memories and experiences tied to traumatic experiences.
Many traumatized individuals get uncomfortable around people and may cut themselves off from society. Therapy can help a traumatized person learn to trust people again. Therapists help their patients redevelop physical and internal senses of safety through activities and discussions.
Depending on your treatment goals, the severity and complexity of the problem and the therapist’s approach, therapy can last from a few sessions to months or even years. Your therapist will end therapy when
- There is noticeable improvement in your condition and you aren’t triggered by past trauma as often
- You are better equipped to manage trauma symptoms such as anxiety
- You feel ready to rely on other people for help to manage stressors
Some Questions to Ask a Therapist
Not all practices are created equal. The therapist that worked wonders for one of your friends or family members may not be a good fit for you. When choosing a therapist, consider your treatment goals, instead of automatically assuming that a popular therapist in your area can produce results for you just because they have done so for many of their traumatized patients.
Once you have narrowed down your list, ask the therapists you are considering these questions to see if they are right for you
- Which techniques do you use?
- Do you have affiliations with industry bodies?
- What are your fees?
- Do you accept my insurance?
The Cooper Mental Health team consists of some of the best psychologists near you in Queens. We are committed to helping traumatized individuals take control of their lives. To book a session with one of our therapists, call (347) 244-7873.