Navigating Betrayal Trauma with Individual Counseling:  Understanding and Coping

Individual-Counseling-117489362 Blog 1 April

If betrayal trauma is something you suffer from, individual counseling with Take Charge Inc. might help! Betrayal trauma refers to the psychological distress that occurs when a person experiences a betrayal by someone they trust and depend on for support, such as a close friend, family member, or romantic partner. Betrayal trauma may occur alongside things like gaslighting and lead to anxiety and depression. It’s important to talk to someone and utilize individual counseling to work your way through these feelings and emotions.

The experience of betrayal can profoundly affect an individual’s sense of safety, security, and well-being, leading to feelings of shock, anger, confusion, and profound hurt. It can also result in difficulties with trust, intimacy, and forming meaningful connections with others in the future. The betrayal trauma theory was proposed in 1991 by Jennifer Freyd, PhD, and the theory states that someone may experience this type of trauma when they are terrified, sometimes for their physical safety or their life, or they are betrayed by someone whom they depend on for survival, such as a parent or caregiver, on whom they rely for food, shelter, and other basic needs. The theory notes that the child may be more likely to block abuse or betrayal from their mind and develop dissociative amnesia if they are dependent on the caregiver for their daily needs and survival. The child’s brain essentially ignores any betrayal to maintain their relationship with their caregiver and continue to survive. Therapy and support groups can be helpful for individuals who have experienced betrayal trauma to process their emotions, rebuild trust, and work through the impact of the betrayal on their lives.

Betrayal trauma alters everything – the mind and body. A person can suffer from betrayal trauma and not yet be aware of the betrayal. Some betrayal trauma symptoms include:

  • Alexithymia: being unable or finding it very difficult to recognize and describe your emotions.
  • Physical symptoms: these may manifest as headaches, stomach aches, chronic fatigue, obesity, gastrointestinal issues, sleep issues, laryngitis, a weakened immune system, etc.
  • Increased dissociation: the feeling of being “in a fog” or “zoned out” is dissociation; you’re vaguely aware of your emotions and feelings but not really able to grasp them.
  • Anxiety: this can either manifest as generalized anxiety or specific fears related to betrayal, like relationship anxiety.
  • Depression: when you are unable to recognize and express your emotions, depression becomes more likely.

Individual counseling can be highly beneficial for individuals dealing with betrayal trauma in several ways, including:

  • Emotional Processing: Counseling provides a safe and supportive space for individuals to express and process their emotions related to the betrayal. A therapist can help clients explore and understand the complex feelings of hurt, anger, sadness, and confusion that may arise because of the betrayal.
  • Cognitive Restructuring: Betrayal trauma can often lead to negative thought patterns and beliefs about oneself, others, and relationships. Counseling can help individuals challenge and reframe these distorted beliefs, promoting healthier and more realistic perspectives.
  • Trauma Processing: Betrayal can be a deeply traumatic experience, and counseling can assist individuals in processing the trauma and its impact on their lives. Therapeutic techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and somatic experiencing can help individuals work through the distressing memories and sensations associated with the betrayal.
  • Self-Exploration and Empowerment: Betrayal trauma can prompt individuals to question their identity, values, and sense of self-worth. Counseling offers an opportunity for self-exploration and empowerment, helping individuals reconnect with their strengths, values, and personal goals.
  • Developing Coping Strategies: Counseling equips individuals with coping strategies and skills to effectively manage distressing emotions and navigate challenging situations. This may include stress management techniques, relaxation exercises, assertiveness training, and boundary-setting skills.
  • Support and Validation: Perhaps most importantly, counseling provides a supportive and nonjudgmental environment where individuals feel heard, understood, and validated. The therapeutic relationship can offer a sense of companionship and solidarity, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness often experienced in the aftermath of betrayal.

Individual counseling can play a crucial role in helping individuals heal from betrayal trauma, regain a sense of control and agency in their lives, and move forward toward emotional recovery and growth. If you are interested in talking to someone at Take Charge Inc. about getting into individual counseling, contact Terri today at (913) 239-8255! Individual counseling can also focus on creating long-term prevention strategies to better manage stressful situations.

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