Coping With Flashbacks for trauma

What is PTSD?

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder. PTSD can occur after someone has witnessed or experienced a traumatic event that involved their belief of being threatened of injury or death.
  • Traumatic events could include car accidents, rape, assault, war, natural disaster, etc. The stress caused by trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including mental, emotional and physical well-being.

What are Flashbacks?

Flashbacks are one of several symptoms that accompany PTSD. In a flashback, a person may feel or act as though the traumatic event is occurring all over again, making it very difficult to cope with. A flashback could be brief, with having some awareness to the present moment.

However, a flashback could also make someone lose all connection of what is going on around them, creating a feeling as if they are being taken completely back to their traumatic event. For example, a rape survivor who sees men who look similar to her abuser may begin to feel pain in her body similar to that which was experienced during her assault.


Self Talk: Tell yourself you are having a flashback and that you are ok

Connected to the present moment:

  • Tell yourself that the worst is over- it happened in the past and you are ok now.
  • Ground yourself to the present by standing up, stomping your feet, etc to remind yourself where you are
  • Use your 5 senses: look around the room and point out objects you see around you—listen to the sounds around you—smell something that soothes you

 Breathe: breathe in threw your nose and out through your mouth. When people get scared, they tend to breathe too quickly and their body can panic. Slow down your breathing to help relax your body.

Connect to your body: rub your legs so remind yourself you are in the present moment and safe.

Self Care: flashbacks are exhausting- make sure you take care of yourself after you’ve had a flashback. For instance, take a relaxing bath, journal, play some soothing music, etc


For more information, please visit

About Pasadena Trauma Therapy

​I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist as well as a Certified EMDR therapist in Pasadena, CA. I have provided outpatient individual and group therapy throughout the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley areas to teens and adults on a variety of issues, ranging from trauma, sexual abuse, physical abuse, incest issues, dissociation/dissociative disorders, anxiety, depression, gang affiliation/involvement, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. I work predominately with adult trauma survivors (sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse, dissociation, etc). I also help clients work through issues of anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, attachment disorders, codependency issues, etc. I am trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), an evidence-based treatment approach shown to help children, adolescents, and their caretakers overcome trauma-related difficulties. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing ( EMDR) and Trauma Resiliency Module(TRM) are a big part of my practice. Both are very effective in treating traumas. EMDR is a form of psychotherapy that has been successful in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, nightmares, etc. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation (such as eye movements or tapping) while the client attends to past memories and triggers, in efforts to decrease or eliminate emotional distress connected to the memory. TRM helps clients with traumatic stress reactions learn skills to help stabilize the mind and body. Clients will learn to track body sensations and bring balance back to the nervous system.
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