Emotional damage occurs from being repeatedly told either implicitly or explicitly that they you not good enough; i.e. being told that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is bad, sinful etc.
As a result, if you are a Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered person, you might suffer from a unique type of trauma; the trauma of growing up in a world where all the messages coming out of the dominant culture — the culture you are immersed in and unable to avoid — tells you that due to your sexuality you are not OK.
Car accidents, child abuse, domestic violence, war, and sudden death of a loved one cause a type of trauma we now call PTSD. However, there is another kind of loss that many people experience, yet they don’t understand it as a loss. Nor do they realize how these losses affect their ability to live a fulfilling life. This kind of loss is called developmental trauma, the loss of childhood innocence.
For GLBT people this is also the loss of a healthy self-identity. Any child exposed to violence or loss at too young of an age can experience psychological and emotional harm. Common examples of childhood trauma are the death of a parent, witnessing or being the victim of domestic violence, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and ongoing emotional damage. GLBT people experience these types of trauma more frequently then other children. This may be due to the fact that adults sense the child's gender is different and be uncomfortable with that feeling.
Traumatic loss can manifest itself in many ways as an adult. Some examples are:
• Repeating self-destructive patterns of behavior though trying not • Being unhappy and not knowing why
• Abusing alcohol and drugs
• Suffering from sadness and depression
• Feeling stressed out
• Difficulty maintaining meaningful relationships
• Having a sense that something is missing or wrong
• Experiencing difficulty with money, career or other maintenance activities of modern life
Successful treatment of trauma requires that a therapist help the client to work through the following:
• Acknowledging the pain caused by the trauma and that it is OK to feel bad.
• Understanding the environment that the trauma took place in, and what causes and conditions allowed it to happen.
• Realizing on a gut level that you are entitled to a better life; to be happy, to not be afraid all of the time, and to have meaningful relationships.
• Recognizing self-defeating thoughts due to low self-esteem and work to change them.
• Looking clearly at what happened and what you can learn from it. This is an opportunity to make something good from a bad situation.
• Releasing the holding patterns in the body, the tight muscles, digestive problems and other associated physical symptoms of trauma.
A holistic approach to trauma work that includes working with thoughts, emotions, the physical body and sensations, as well as relationships to self and other can bring lasting relief and healing from trauma. Body-centered psychotherapy combined with kind compassionate and skillful talk therapy is the leading approach to healing trauma.
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