No matter what type of trauma you’ve experienced, you may have developed intense fears and phobias in the aftermath. While it’s normal to experience intense fear right after a traumatic event, long-term it can have crippling effects on your life. Below we explore some methods trauma counselors may use to help you overcome your fears and phobias.
Confrontation Many trauma survivors develop fears about certain things, places, and people. This fear may cause them to go into extreme avoidance mode. For example, if you witnessed an armed robbery in a grocery store, you may start to avoid all grocery stores. You may even avoid driving by a grocery store. Obviously this type of avoidance can impact the quality of your life. To combat this issue, you might confront your phobia by going into a grocery store despite your fears. Ignoring your fear and going into the store for a mere five minutes can go a long way of helping your recover.
Reasoning. On some level trauma survivors who’ve developed extreme fears and phobias know that their concerns are exaggerated. Well, you can use that to your advantage. Create a journal of your fears and begin examining and reasoning them away. For example, if you fear violence in grocery stores you might reason that away by looking up the statistics on armed robbery and determine that there’s a slim chance it could happen to you. Writing this down will help reinforce the idea that your fears are unwarranted and may help you reduce your anxiety levels.
Exposure. Since many trauma survivors handle their fears and phobias using avoidance, exposure to what they fear can work well in helping them reduce their anxiety levels. If this is done in a safe and controlled way it can help the trauma survivor create new, positive experiences. Let’s say you’re a trauma survivor who has an intense fear of dogs because you were mauled by one as a child. Exposing yourself to well-trained and safe dogs could help you create new experience and help you understand that not all dogs are vicious.
Acceptance. Surprisingly, it’s not always a good thing to try to change your fears head on. In some cases allowing yourself to feel the fear can be more effective. A matter of fact, some trauma survivors find that trying to “stay positive” or talk themselves down from their terror can cause more stress than relief. Working with an experienced trauma counselor, you can learn to accept that you have intense fears and then work through them so that they don’t negatively impact your life.
Since there’s no one-size fits all in trauma recovery, you’ll need to work with your counselor to get the right treatment for you.