I am an English Speaking therapist and have worked as a psychotherapist in the US for 20 years.
You can expect a therapist who deeply understand changes and adjustments to a new culture.
Approach to therapy
Most of us desire a greater connection with and love for ourselves and others. However, our fears and habitual ways of being in the world often interfere. I help you uncover your true essence and wisdom that allows for greater connection and peace. We work together to quiet the internal chatter and overwhelming feelings through present-time awareness and careful pacing. We can then safely explore current stress and challenges, and as needed, past events and out-dated beliefs.
What to expect during your session
I gently guide you to slow down and become curious about what is happening not only in your thoughts and feelings but also in your body as you address current concerns. By listening attentively to your body’s messages and connecting these to emotions, images and old beliefs, we track how you have learned to be in the world.
Why talk therapy isn’t enough
Life experiences are stored not only in thoughts and emotions but deeply in the body at a cellular level. Often it takes more than talking about these experiences to release them. Sometimes, you are unable to access words to describe events, especially with overwhelming experiences. Yet these highly charged memories are locked in your body. Only when you explore both your heart and body’s responses to such experiences do you reach deeper healing.
What you gain
In your work with me, you gain:
•Relief from deep despair and anxiety
•More thoughtful, flexible and calm responses to life occurrences
•More adaptive ways of working with strong feelings
•A shift from old, limiting beliefs to a more expansive view of the world
•Greater sense of aliveness
•Relief from intrusive memories and dreams
•A feeling of safety in your body and in general
•A feeling of greater connection
Please contact me for any questions you might have regarding therapy in English in Malmö!
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What is Trauma?
A trauma can be large or small. It may be triggered by one experience or recurring events, and these events may have happened recently or a long time ago. But if it was overwhelming and the person felt they were powerless to defend themselves, then they may experience the typical psychological and physical after effects of trauma, such as headaches, muscle tension, anxiety, worry, and nervousness.
Read about the latest research on my Facebook page:
What is a Traumatic Event?
A traumatic event is any stressful situation that overwhelms our ability to defend ourselves, and subsequently manage or cope with the emotions involved with the experience.
Common traumatic events include harassment, sexual abuse, discrimination, indoctrination, bullying, being a victim of an alcoholic parent, violence, traffic accidents, police brutality, war, death, or natural disasters such as flooding or earthquakes. To experience or witness threats of violence, and prolonged exposure to extreme poverty or verbal abuse can be traumatic.
This list is not exhaustive: people may potentially find any event traumatic due to individual circumstances or experiences and the feelings of being overwhelmed can be delayed by weeks, years, or even decades. There are however some common aspects that can be found in a traumatic event:
There is often a violation of an individual’s human rights, or the person finds themselves in a state of extreme confusion and uncertainty.
Individuals who have experienced trauma need to speak with any person who is able to really hear the difficult experiences, thoughts, physical reactions, emotions and fears. Sometimes even the most distressing details.
For those suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or other more complicated traumatic responses, talking with family and friends is often not enough, and some sort of professional support is required.
A number of psychotherapy techniques have been designed with the treatment of trauma in mind –
- ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing)
- MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction)
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.
I prefer Sensorimotor Psychotherapy as it has proven to be very effective.
After Effects of Trauma
How does one know if one has been traumatized? Here are some common psychological and physiological symptoms of trauma and PTSD.
- Intrusion Symptoms – The traumatic event is experienced repeatedly, involuntarily, and through intrusive memories. Traumatic nightmares may occur. Physiological reactivity to trauma-related reminders may develop.
- Avoidance – Avoidance of painful, trauma-related reminders of the event. This may include thoughts and feelings, and external triggers such as people, places, conversation topics, activities, objects or situations.
- Adverse changes – Adverse changes in mood and thoughts. Negative beliefs and thoughts about oneself or the world (e.g. “I am a weak person”, “The world is dangerous”). Recurring negative trauma-related emotions (e.g. fear, terror, anger, guilt or shame). Decreased interest in activities that were important before the trauma. Feelings of detachment or estrangement. Persistent inability to experience positive emotions. Feelings of exclusion.
- Changes in Reactivity – Trauma-related changes in reactivity that began or worsened after the traumatic event, for example irritable or aggressive behavior, self-destructive or reckless behavior, tense vigilance and strong startle reactions, problems with concentration, sleep disorders.
Psychological after effects of trauma are natural and normal reactions to an unnatural event.
People who go through traumatic experiences often have certain symptoms and problems afterward. The severity of these symptoms depends partly on the type of trauma they experienced, and the emotional support they receive from others.
Different people react differently to similar events.
A person can experience an event as traumatic whilst another person might not. In other words, not all people who experience a potentially traumatic event may be traumatized.
After a traumatic experience, a person may re-experience the trauma mentally and physically.
One can also try to avoid trauma reminders, also called ‘triggers’, as this can be uncomfortable or even painful. Triggers act as a reminder of the trauma, and can cause anxiety and other emotions. The person may be completely unaware of what these triggers are, but still react to sensory experiences, such as a sound or smell that existed at the traumatic scene. Panicreactions is an example of a psychosomatic reaction to such emotional triggers.
Re-experience of the event as a dream or sensation that it is happening again is common.
Upsetting memories such as images, thoughts or flashbacks may haunt the person, and nightmares may be frequent. Insomnia can occur, and fear and insecurity may keep the person vigilant and on the lookout for danger at all times.
Traumatic events can be re-experienced as if they are happening in the present, and prevents the possibility of gaining perspective on the experience. This can produce a pattern of long periods of acute hyperactivity of the nervous system, punctuated by periods of physical and mental exhaustion.
Over time, emotional exhaustion sets in, leading to distraction, and clear thinking can be difficult or impossible. Emotional detachment, as well as dissociation or ‘feeling numb’ can often occur.
Feeling permanently damaged
Some traumatized people may feel permanently damaged when their trauma symptoms do not disappear over time, and if they do not think their situation will ever improve. This can lead to feelings of despair, loss of self-esteem, and often depression. If important aspects of the person and the world have been violated, the person may question their own identity.
The psychological consequences mean that one may not be able to function as before
The most common reactions following a severe trauma are feelings of irritability, hypersensitivity or feeling unjustifiably angry. It is common to suffer from anxiety, insomnia, and experience difficulties with concentration. Many relive the events in their sleep in the form of nightmares when asleep or flashbacks whilst awake, forcing the individual to relive the experience as if it were happening again in the present.
Those who have experiences traumatic events may have problems with affect regulation – the ability to relax or control one’s emotions. Anxiety can occur. Trying to avoid pain is common and normal.
To avoid pain, people can turn to psychoactive substances such as alcohol or drugs to try and escape their feelings.
To dissociate from painful feelings involves the numbing of one’s emotions, and may give the impression that the individual is emotionally detached, distant or cold. The person may become confused in ordinary situations and have memory problems.
In many cases, a person suffering from traumatic disorders may begin to conduct destructive behaviors as a way to manage the pain, often without being fully aware of the reason for their own actions.
Intense feelings of anger may linger below the surface, sometimes emerging in inappropriate or unexpected situations.
Often, despite their best efforts, traumatized parents can experience difficulty helping their children with emotional regulation, which can in turn affect the child’s fears and traumas, leading to negative consequences for the child. In such cases, it is of interest to the parent and child that the parent seeks consultation, and if necessary for their child to receive the appropriate therapy services.
What type of trauma may young children experience?
Young children are exposed to many types of traumatic experience that may place them at risk for PTSD. These include:
- Witnessing interpersonal violence
- Traffic accidents
- Dog Bites
- Severe medical procedures
- Experiences of Natural Disasters
During the second half of the 1800s, the English surgeon John Eric Erichsen wrote about the psychological effects he witnessed in patients with severe physical injuries. Erichsen believed that the numbness, insomnia and issues with arousal witnessed in one patient were caused by damage to the spinal column after a train collision. This phenomenon of a traumatic event later manifesting itself in psychological symptoms was labeled ‘railway spine’.
During the late 1800’s, a neurologist by the name of Jean-Martin Charcot, working at the famous hospital La Salpetriere in Paris, France, was probably the first to notice that many of the women who were institutionalized with ‘hysteria’ had previously experienced difficult events. The women also had a tendency to dissociate, and not always be in the present.
The French Psychologist Pierre Janet was also active at La Salpetriere during this time. Janet believed that an emotionally charged event could lead to a splitting of the mind, whereby a terrifying event required a defensive reaction from the psyche, and the memory of the event was removed from consciousness. The traumatic event was subsequently not integrated into the person’s identity, instead splitting off into parts that functioned as separate systems in an individuals’ subconscious, a process that Janet considered to be the key to what is today labeled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Sigmund Freud studied under Charcot at the hospital in Paris. Like Charcot, Freud believed that past events were the cause of hysterical neurosis, but decided in 1897 to propose that this split was caused by internal conflicts, rather than by external ones. Freud’s success as a prominent psychologist led to the popularization of this explanation of hysterical neurosis, and Janet’s theories fell into oblivion. For half a century it was believed that healthy individual’s reactions to external traumatic events would be short lasting, and that any chronic symptoms were caused by unresolved internal conflicts.
Much of our current understanding of trauma came from the experience of military psychiatrists in the 20th century. During World War I, the term ‘Shell Shock’ was used to describe the psychological impact of the experience of war. During World War II, our understanding of the war neuroses known as battle fatigue (combat fatigue) increased. During the Vietnam War, the issue of the severe psychological effects of traumatic events became a central topic, and alongside studies of abused women, the concept of PTSD was formally conceptualized.
Non-Functional ‘Self Care’
Non-functional self-care refers to the use of non-prescription drugs, alcohol, or other self-soothing behavior individuals use to moderate the mental illness, stress, anxiety or other effects of psychological trauma.
What is Secondary Trauma? Working with traumatised people can be traumatising!
Some professions are regularly exposed to overdoses of human trauma and suffering. Care workers, medical professionals, police, fire fighters, military veterans, asylum lawyers, interpreters, funeral directors and many others often need to assist people who are experiencing or have experienced trauma in their lives.
Research has shown that exposure to the traumatic experiences of others can often have a profound effect on the wellbeing of the individual tasked with assisting these traumatised individuals. The name commonly given to this phenomenon is ‘Secondary Trauma’.
Secondary Traumatisation may affect an individual in a number of different ways. Some common signs of secondary trauma include –
- Intrusive thoughts
- Unwelcome, involuntary thoughts surrounding traumatic events may become difficult to manage or eliminate.
- This can lead to an increase in arousal or avoidance reactions related to the secondary trauma.
- Sleep disruption
- Falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night may become difficult, leading to exhaustion and anxiety surrounding sleep.
- Anger and Cynicism
- One may suddenly become angry in situations where previously, one remained calm.
- A general distrust of others’ motives or beliefs.
- Avoiding social contact
- Avoiding people or activities that may trigger traumatic memories.
- Spending time with friends or family may become tiring or upsetting.
- Detachment from emotions
- Whilst physically present in any given situation, one may find their mind is elsewhere, appearing preoccupied or distracted.
- This can make giving or receiving empathy difficult, and the lack of attention may lead to memory problems
Secondary Trauma is not a disease or a diagnosis but a completely NATURAL and NORMAL response to very unnatural and abnormal events. Exposure to other people’s stories of disasters can affect your overall wellbeing, and in the long run lead to burnout.
However, it can be managed!
Secondary trauma is a relatively unknown concept in Sweden. PALMER Psychotherapy and Education offers customised seminars where participants are given the tools to identify and manage secondary trauma. These methods, based on contemporary research from the United States, can help you better care for your clients and your own wellbeing both inside and outside of the workplace.
Kerstin Palmer has trained lawyers, psychotherapists, interpreters, administrators and nurses in the United States for over 14 years. Further, as a UN employee in war zones in Africa, she was an advisor to the management team and top military commander. In addition, she trained doctors, military and police officers from around the world at the UN headquarters.
Contact Kerstin Palmer, PALMER Psychotherapy and Training, regarding individual therapy, seminars for groups and/or individually for managers.
Cell phone – 0703-777884
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
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