How Trauma Impacts Relationships & Intimacy: The Broken Door Concept

The Broken Door Concept

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When we experience trauma, our bodies store it, along with our memories, our psyche and our soul. When we experience sexual trauma, our second chakra (the energetic center around the sacral area of the sex organs) can be thrown out of balance.  

A balanced second chakra is able to emit a sort of radar outward towards others that says “I am healthy and I only welcome healthy others’ into my space. I am discerning.  The doorway into my intimate space is strong and stays shut until I know I can trust and decide to welcome you in.”  

When our second chakra is out of balance, it operates like a broken door.  The level of broken-ness of our doors depends on our history.  If our attachment to our primary care providers was safe and consistent, our door is more likely to function properly, keeping people out when we want to and allowing others’ in when we invite them. If there was a sense of distrust, instability, neglect or harm with our primary care providers, the door may operate with less consistency and functionality.   If we’ve endured trauma, the door is effected even more.  

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If the door was previously broken due to poor attachment, and then further injured by trauma, we might find that the door is missing a screen or the hinges may not hold it in place or the glass may be busted in.  When people walk around with broken doors in this way, they emit an energy, much like a radar, that seeks out and attracts others’ with similarly broken doors.  In result, two people who have experienced trauma and/or insecure attachment may experience a magnetic force pulling them together.

This magnetic force that is experienced towards others’ who have broken doors is the psyche’s way of trying to replay and repair the trauma that broke the door in the first place.  The goal here is to engage in the relationship in a way that heals the past hurt and broken trust, but unfortunately, two broken doors within a relationship do tend to hurt each other more than heal. Oftentimes, this sort of instinctual match making can re-create trauma similar to their historical trauma, leading to re-traumatization and further damage to the door. That is, however, unless the individuals are able to engage in appropriate trauma resolution.  This is where therapy can be very helpful. 

When the traumatized individual decides they want to repair their broken door and heal the wounds that broke their door in the first place, finding a trauma specialist is an effective way to begin that journey.  When I engage in trauma work with my clients, I focus first to help them build trust in me and in the process.  I ask them about their goals and their history, and we come to an agreement for how they’d like their healing journey to proceed.  Once we establish our goals and direction for achieving them, we then start to discuss how they can protect themselves from further damage to their door.  

It is here that I may provide psycho-education on relationships and intimacy so that my clients can make informed decisions about how they want to protect themselves from further damage to the door while engaged in sexual trauma work. 

I have created this diagram showing different levels of intimacy with love and commitment, the most intimate, at the center and less intimate experiences, like interacting with strangers, in the outer ring.  Take a look and see if this is accurate for how you consider intimacy levels.  It may not be and that’s okay, but it is important to have a clear picture of your personal levels of intimacy so that you can make informed choices about who you’d like to allow into more inner levels and who you’d like to keep further out.  

Levels of Intimacy

Levels of Intimacy

During sexual trauma work, it can be very helpful to pause any movement inwards in order to protect yourself from further harm or confusion. Oftentimes, when we lead with or rush into physical intimacy and sexuality before we establish trust or emotional intimacy, we run the risk of re-traumatizing. This can make management of life and relationships particularly difficult and slow down the reparation process of the door. Seeking a therapist who will help you set up protected space within yourself and your relationships is key to successful trauma resolution.  

For more information, to schedule an appointment in our Bryn Mawr or West Chester Offices near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or for any questions, feel free to contact me here or at SpilovePsychotherapy@gmail.com

Learn more about our services on the Main Line of Philadelphia in Bryn Mawr at www.tiffanyspilove.com. Check out our helpful Instagram Account @spilovepsychotherapy

How to Find an Expert on PTSD & Trauma for Therapy on The Main Line of Philadelphia

The Main Line of Philadelphia

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is a very special place to live.  If you already live here, you know how unique this place is - if you don't live here, you are in for quite a treat.  The suburban area to the west of Philadelphia has been referred to as The Main Line because of the main train line that connects Philadelphia to all the beautiful towns built up along the train tracks: Lower Merion includes Overbrook, Merion, Bala Cynwyd, Wynnewood, Narberth, Ardmore, Bryn Mawr and Rosemont.  Further out we have Radnor, Villanova, Wayne, St. Davids, Berwyn, Paoli, Malvern, Exton and Frazier.  Each town is unique and has it’s own spin on charm.

Finding an expert trauma therapist on the Main Line of Philadelphia

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seems harder than it should be.  With Bryn Mawr's Graduate School of Social Work close by, Villanova University, Rosemont College, Saint Joseph's University, Widener, Immaculata, Cabrini, Ursinus and not to mention University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore and LaSalle, we have so many talented therapists, social workers and counselors.  So, how do you find the therapist who knows just how to help you manage your post-traumatic stress symptoms?  How do you find the counselor you can click with and trust to guide you through an evidence-based method of healing your past traumatic memories?  Choosing a therapist is a very personal decision.  You can have three great therapists, but if you don’t feel safe with them, what’s the point?  If you are looking for a counselor, psychologist, life coach or therapist - I'd like to help you find someone who can help.

Here are some ways to search

Educate Yourself About Methods that Work for PTSD

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When you have PTSD, there are only a few ways of treating your symptoms that have been studied and proven to effectively reduce or eliminate symptoms.  Those nightmares you’ve been dealing with, the heightened startle response, hypervigilance, and avoidance of triggering situations – those are the things that get in the way of your life.  These are the issues you’ll want to be sure your therapist knows how to help you manage and heal, not just talk about.  One of the top researched methods for eliminating these symptoms is a method called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

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EMDR has been studied and proven as an evidence-based treatment method.  You can learn more about EMDR and how it works here.  Here is a short explanation: when we have traumatic memories, the memories tend to get stuck on one side of the brain and our body tries to heal it by re-playing it over and over, but it stays stuck.  EMDR is a technique that stimulates each side of the body alternately while the patient processes the traumatic material.  This technique helps the brain move the traumatic memory from one side of the body through to be able to process it so it’s not stuck on a loop any longer.  You can find therapists who are trained and certified to utilize EMDR by going on the EMDRIA.org website or asking people who know therapists in the area.  Think about asking friends who have or know therapists, your doctor or someone at your school.  Therapists that come highly recommended and are known to work with PTSD through EMDR methods are a good way to make sure they have a good reputation.  

Google

Type into Google your town and the issue you are looking for help with.  For example, "Bryn Mawr and PTSD" or "Rosemont and Trauma" and see what comes up.  In the top listings that come up in your search, you will hopefully see some links to therapists that specialize in your particular need and are trained in EMDR.    

Psychology Today

What you will most likely see is a result that links to a Psychology Today profile for therapists in your area that have indicated these specialties.  Psychology Today is a great site that is most commonly used for therapists to post their profiles and for clients to find a therapist nearby.  It’s very helpful that you can refine your search by specialty.  The unfortunate thing is that therapists can indicate that we specialize in as many topics as we'd like.  Although a therapist might indicate that they specialize in PTSD, if it's really something we know a lot about, we obtain specialized training in evidence-based methods specifically for PTSD and we will often note areas we are trained in on our websites, so don’t stop with Psychology Today, make sure you read through the clinician’s website as well.

Websites

Check out the websites of potential therapists.  If you are looking for help with flashbacks and the website you are visiting talks a bunch about flashbacks, that's a great sign!  If you are looking for help with a heightened startle response and you're on a website that doesn't mention this symptom, you might want to keep looking.  

Phone consultation

Some therapists offer a free 15-minue phone consultation which is a great service and an excellent opportunity for you to interview your potential trauma therapist.  You are going to be spending a good amount of time and finances on effective therapy, it is very important that you find the right fit for you.

Here are some questions to help you navigate your phone consultation:

1.     What methods do you use to treat PTSD?

2.   How do you help your clients manage overwhelming emotions while they work on traumatic memories?

3.   What do you do to treat the symptoms versus the root of the problem?

4.   How long does it usually take before your clients start to see relief from their symptoms?

5.   How effective are the methods you use?

6.   Given my specific set of symptoms and needs, do you think you can help me and have you helped many others’ with my specific symptoms before?

 

In an ideal world, you would find a therapist who has special training and expertise in the methods that show the best results and someone who has tons of experience working with eating disorders and trauma.  Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world.  So you'll need to search a bit further.  You'll be searching for someone that you connect with, who you feel comfortable talking to, someone who will be honest with you and you'll know you can be honest with them.  

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I hope this helps you in your search for the right therapist on the Main Line of Philadelphia.  If you want some tools to help now, sign up for my newsletter to get some tips and tools for managing PTSD and eating disorders.  If you are still feeling stuck, feel free to call me at 610.314.8402 for a free 15 minute phone consultation.  I am available to listen to what's happening and help direct you to the right person.  If you are looking for help with eating disorders or PTSD, you can read more about how I can help here.