Psychological, emotional or physical Trauma is any frightening experience that overwhelms our capacity to cope with it. It is also an intense experience of powerlessness and having no choice. This could be a single incident traumatic experience, such as a car accident or being a victim or a witness of violence. Trauma may also be a long-term, repetitive and interpersonal experience such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Single incident and repetitive Trauma often lead to the development of symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) OR Complex Post Traumatic Stress disorder (CPTSD).
Some common symptoms of both PTSD and CPTSD are:
- Flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts
- Poor concentration, confusion or being easily overwhelmed
- Anxiety, panic attacks, depression or intense fatigue
- Amnesia, or dissociative amnesia of the trauma
- Dissociation (feeling disconnected from your body and the present moment)
- Being hyper-vigilant, constantly on guard or easily startled
- Feeling frequently on edge and irritable
- Avoiding situations or reminders of the trauma experience
- Feeling little or no pleasure or joy
- Feeling unsafe in your body and in your environment
- Feeling like your life is out of control
It’s important to remember that these symptoms are not pathology, illness or weakness. They are your body and mind’s survival mechanisms. As painful as they are, these symptoms are intelligent in that they help protect you from re-living the Trauma. Because the Trauma was too hard to bear.
Without question Trauma can significantly impair your quality of life. It can alter how your brain functions and your body moves and feels. As Bessel van der Kolk (2014) writes in The Body Keeps The Score, “Trauma is the imprint left on mind, brain and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present. Trauma results in a fundamental reorganization of the way mind and brain manage perceptions. It changes not only how we think and what we think about, but also our very capacity to think…..Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies. The past is alive in the form of gnawing discomfort. They often become experts in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from themselves…”
Trauma Therapy begins with creating safety and trust with the therapist. This is a process in itself. A trusting, non-coercive relationship between the Trauma therapist and you is paramount. It is the foundation of Trauma healing work.
In Trauma therapy, absolutely at your own pace, sufficient time and space is given for you to describe your feelings and frustrations, what triggers you, and how your trauma has impacted you. Also, if you wish, you may want to describe or tell the story of the traumatic event or experience itself.
Trauma lives in the body, and in implicit, subconscious memory. Therefore, Trauma therapy also uses somatic and embodiment approaches such as conscious breathing, exercises for grounding in the present moment, or mindful movement, only as they are of interest to you, and always at your own pace. These somatic techniques can help develop what is called embodied awareness. Embodied awareness is the ability to feel connected to your body and bodily sensations in the present moment. So that you don’t have to hide (fight, fly or freeze) from the memory and imprint of your trauma. So that PTSD or CPTSD symptoms can be reduced, or eliminated. So that you can feel safe in your body and your life, so you don’t have to hide from yourself anymore…
As the quote says, “Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.”
If you would like me to help you in your trauma healing and recovery, please contact me today for an appointment.