When life blindsides us with an unexpected loss, death, divorce, injury, or natural disaster, it’s likely we will experience symptoms of trauma. Unhealed trauma impacts our beliefs about ourselves, the world, our behaviors, and our lives regardless of how it happens.
Dr. Carol Chu-Peralta works with her patients to help them overcome the trauma, anxiety, anger, and depression that a traumatic event can bring.
With a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Dr. Chu-Peralta understood trauma first-hand through the lens of her parents’ experience as they emigrated to the United States. “When I began my clinical training, my first case was a trauma case,” she says. I became interested in trauma across the spectrum and began requesting trauma cases throughout my externships and internship.”
Although Dr. Chu-Peralta specializes in trauma cases, a unique balance must be achieved when working in that area of practice. “It is important to equally weigh a specialization with general treatment because no one is one-dimensional,’” she says. “Trauma may walk through the door, but that is usually not the only thing people bring with them. Sometimes you have to peel back the layers to discover the cause of the symptoms.”
Dr. Chu-Peralta and her team’s holistic approach helps her patients to build the skills that will help them deal with issues such as anxiety, depression, emotional abuse, stress, and loss using therapies that have been researched and proven to be effective. They take their patient’s values and beliefs into consideration and then integrate their clinical expertise into the treatment plan.
“We see a lot of trauma, depression, and anxiety in our practice,” says Carol. Since COVID struck, we have had an abrupt increase in children and adolescent cases. We saw kids struggling with social withdrawal, anger issues, and frustration. We also saw an uptick in medical provider burnout. Medical professionals had to perform throughout the pandemic at superhero status and then transition back to their own personal roles at home. It was very taxing on them. Now that the pandemic has receded, we are seeing more adults who had prioritized their children for so long that they neglected their own mental health.”
If you have a loved one you suspect needs help, Dr. Chu-Peralta suggests being mindful of validating their emotions and listening to them compassionately. Present the option to speak to a mental health professional in the most non-judgmental way possible. “Speaking to a provider adds another member to your social support team,” says Carol. “Let your loved one know that you will stay by their side regardless of whether they speak to a professional. If they are resistant to seeing a therapist, consider speaking to someone on your own who can help you navigate the situation and relieve some of your own personal stress. Strike the balance of support carefully so as not to enable their unhealthy behavior.”
Dr. Chu-Peralta’s group practice offers both in-person and telehealth appointments. “All of our treatment is driven by compassion. We are genuinely interested in the people who walk through our doors, and we work hard to ensure a warm and compassionate environment. That makes a world of difference when it comes to therapy—a connection is important. Otherwise, why would you listen?”
Dr. Chu-Peralta enjoys being involved in the local community and playing an active role as a volunteer at her children’s schools to share the message of mental health awareness. “I live in this community, and I want to be a resource for it!”