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Trauma Therapy PTSD Therapy Philadelphia Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Harrisburg "embodied expressions" "embodied expressions therapy" "sahra riccardi" "trauma counseling near me"

Stuff that's hard to talk about

Many times, when clients first decide they want to come for therapy, they are experiencing symptoms that feel out of control.  What most of my clients have in common, is that the “out of control” symptom was really a way they were trying to help themselves feel better.  

Nobody gets through life without difficult experiences. 

We all want to feel better.  Sometimes the ways we have done so in the past are no longer working, or are causing more harm.

Some experiences I have specialized training and/or experience in are as follows:

  • Sexual Abuse, Incest

  • Emotional Abuse

  • Covert Emotional Incest

  • Physical Abuse

  • Narcissistic Abuse

  • Neglect

  • Poverty/systemic trauma

  • Incarceration or placement

  • Religious Abuse, High Control Groups, Cult Abuse

  • Growing up in a home with substance abuse

  • Growing up in a home with domestic violence

  • Early attachment disruptions

  • Bullying & Rejection

  • Witnessing or Perpetrating Violence

  • Complex Trauma,  Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD), and “CPTSD”*



*Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD or C-PTSD) and Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD) are both terms used to describe the effects of complex or developmental trauma which differ from symptoms of “classic” PTSD.  While neither of these terms are formal diagnoses, they describe a distinct set of symptoms experienced by individuals who have experienced prolonged abuse or neglect.  


It is important to note that complex or developmental trauma does NOT just occur from physical or sexual abuse.  It often results from verbal abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect.  


We aren’t just traumatized by the bad things that happened, we are traumatized by the good things that didn’t. 

Common symptoms of experiencing Complex or Developmental Trauma include


  • Difficulty in relationships with others, Social Anxiety, or Attachment Disorders

  • Not feeling safe with others, difficulty trusting or experiencing harmful relationships

  • Feeling hypercritical of others and/or self

  • Chronic feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and/or abandonment

  • Toxic Shame

  • Poor Self-Esteem

  • Difficult relationship with the self including harsh Inner Critic or self-abuse

  • Self-Abandonment, self-loathing

  • Hypersensitivity or having a “hair trigger”

  • Difficulty regulating mood, extreme “mood swings” that seem to come out of nowhere and are hard to recover from. 

  • Emotional Flashbacks

  • Disruption of bodily function (ex: poor digestion, difficulty sleeping)

  • Coping skills that feel out of control (ex: substance use, sexual behavior, skin-picking, disordered eating, overspending etc…)

  • Problems with attention and concentration

  • Hypervigilance, hyperarousal, always feeling “on edge” or “waiting for the other shoe to drop”

  • Dissociation, detachment,  or feeling like things aren’t real

  • Feeling disconnected from the body, unsure of needs or feelings 


To learn more about Complex Trauma (CPTSD, C-PTSD, or DTD) and how it differs from “classic” PTSD please click here (Part 1) and here (Part 2)



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