When Trauma Happens…

There has just been a terrible tragedy at Umpqua Community College. I would say it is way too close to home yet I realize whether it is in my immediate area or across the world, it is way too close to home! Where ever you live, this may be triggering strong emotions in you, your children, family members, or friends, conversely some may just be feeling numb.

Many are asking, how do I talk to my loved ones, friends, students about this or other senseless tragic events. Immediately after a trauma, it may be more about listening. Talking about safety plans, mental health issues, guns, driving safely etc. is important, yet may be best left for another day. Those effected may need to tell their story over and over, or may just want to be quiet. Be available to listen, and not judge the emotions, or lack of emotions expressed.

In the next days, weeks, or months, you or your loved one may experience symptoms that feel scary, disturbing, or disruptive to life. You may experience increased anxiety, depression, or grief reactions. You may also feel like you are re-experiencing the event with flashbacks, nightmares, or physical reactions. You may feel numb or avoid places, people, or things that remind you of the tragedy. You may remember in detail, not be able to remember at all or block certain aspects of the event. Feeling jumpy, angry, always on alert, difficulty concentrating or difficulty falling and staying asleep are also common. Children may be clingy, fear separation, withdraw, or exhibit aggressive behaviors.

While these symptoms are unpleasant, they are normal reactions to the trauma you have experienced. Talking to family and friends, telling your story, and practicing self-care will help you through this difficult time. If you feel that these symptoms are overwhelming and more help is needed, it is available. Look for a therapist that has experience in dealing with trauma, or feel free to call me at 503-896-6796 and make an appointment.



by Patricia Rohani LPC, LMFT

being or bringing into harmony; a feeling of being "at one" with another being


Are you longing for a safe haven in times of need, distress, and loneliness? At times, even in our marriages and family relationships we can feel we lack a certain safety to share our innermost fears, desires, and yes even our joys. We are all wired for relationship; it is our natural habitat, and for the healthy relationships you long for, attunement is key.

Attunement is being exquisitely in harmony, or “at one” with another. It is about “feeling felt” by someone. No one can be perfectly attuned at all times though. We can’t as spouses and we can’t as parents. There will never be a total absence of differences of opinion, conflict, or just plain missing the mark.  In all relationships there will be times of rupture, yet do you know how, and feel safe in your repairs?

Attunement is key to our marriages and it is key to raising healthy, well-adjusted, and secure children. When we attune with another our inner world is in a state of resonance with theirs.  How though do we attain attunement in our relationships with our spouses, children, family …God?  It takes spending time with and focusing on the other and ourselves. In fact, we come to know our own selves through interacting with others. When we feel seen, heard and safe with another we feel a deep sense of connection, and we know there will be someone to stand with us when our “dragons” come.

Working towards attunement can bring about that relationship that we are longing for and have positive effects on physical, emotional and mental health. Some folks have spent a lifetime of being hyper focused or “tuning in” to avoid danger in unhealthy and or abusive relationships, yet to be attuned is something much different. Longing for safe connection is natural. We all desire it.

If you are struggling to find that safe haven and attunement in your relationships there is help. Call me at 503-896-6796 and set up an appointment. I look forward to your call! 

Oh and enjoy this video showing exquisite attunement in grebes. Did you know many water fowl mate for life?

Little "t" can equal big "CE" (or, The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back)

I recently spoke to a dear friend who was relating a revelation she had. She couldn't figure out why she was having such a hard time getting her "umph" on. This person is normally high energy, filled with ideas, creativity, and drive. She said she was looking back over life in the last year or two and realized she had experienced numerous moves, job changes, losses, additions to the family, relational dilemmas, and a number of surgeries ranging from somewhat minor to major. I had to laugh when she said, "I realized maybe this was a lot!" Of course it was! I pointed out to her that for most people they would see this as overwhelming, especially when it was described all at once, yet for her, and over the course of time, she was not giving herself credit for all she had been through, and endured.

What has taken place in your life over the past year or two, (or more)? Have you been experiencing a series of little "t's"? By this I mean small traumas that you may be ignoring, dismissing, or minimizing as not that big of a deal. These little "t" events can have a big "CE" cumulative effects ranging from depression, anxiety, lack of energy or interest, feeling numb, bodily symptoms and health issues. In fact, many of the symptoms you could experience may mimic big "T" PTSD symptoms such as:

1. Re-experiencing symptoms:

Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating, bad dreams, frightening thoughts.

Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person's everyday routine. They can start from the person's own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

2. Avoidance symptoms:

Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience. Feeling emotionally numb. Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry. Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past. Having trouble remembering the event.

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

3. Hyperarousal symptoms:

Being easily startled. Feeling tense or "on edge"Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.

Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.


If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, whether from a large scale trauma or a smaller scale trauma, there is help! It can start with the realization that life's events do have an impact our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing and that self-care is not selfish, but rather a necessary component of life. If you need someone to come alongside you through your journey into insight, healing, and change, give me a call!