Interview: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.Dr. Colleen Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Trauma, and has worked with hundreds of people struggling with mental health issues. She also identifies as a trauma survivor and someone who has experienced her own personal difficulties managing mental health, so she has a unique perspective on this issue.
Talking points for an interview
with Dr. Cira on trauma:
What Is Little t Trauma and Big T Trauma?
Little t trauma can be described as like death by a million cuts and something that is less obviously traumatic, but becomes more so due to the chronicity of it. And identifying Big T trauma as a single event that is far easier to name is something traumatic. These concepts are often quite misunderstood and can be confusing where Big T sounds worse than little t, but that’s simply not the case.
What Is Invisible Trauma?
Examples of invisible trauma are events like betrayal, vicarious trauma, and intergenerational trauma, which is important to shed light on, as these are things we don’t often think of when we hear the word “trauma.”
What Is Relational/Developmental Trauma?
- This is basically when a child’s caregiver/parent is anywhere from abusive to neglectful to emotionally unavailable.
- This manifests as physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse, all things we might think of when we hear the word “trauma,”but can also include a parent/caregiver being emotionally unavailable/unpredictable due to substance use/abuse, a physical illness or their own mental health struggles.
- This is important to recognize, label and discuss because most people’s traumatic histories begin in their childhood homes at the hands of their parents, yet it’s often not something we recognize as trauma because it’s far more difficult to label it than a Big T trauma event, such as a car accident, a death, or a sexual assault.
Other Forms of Trauma
- medical trauma
- traumatic grief and loss
Effective Ways to Manage Traumatic Responses
- Practicing mindfulness
- Distress tolerance
- Emotional regulation
- Becoming safely embodied is necessary for just about any of this to be possible. Trauma happens in our bodies—in our nervous system, specifically—and as a result, sometimes just having to live in the traumatized body we have can feel really tricky.
- For people who have experienced chronic trauma, one of the first things they need to do is learn how to feel safe again in their bodies and this is often something that they cannot do alone. So finding a trauma-informed, warm, relational therapist who is trained in “bottom up” processing is a great place to start.
Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira received both her Masters and Doctorate from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois. She’s the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC, a boutique group practice specializing in Women and Trauma with locations in Chicago and Oak Park.
She was named one of the “Top 100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” by Today’s Chicago Woman. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.
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