There are three important questions about trauma that I cover here.
- What are the situations that trigger a trauma response- ?
- What are the symptoms of trauma – they may not be what you think
- The essential elements of trauma treatment – and how you can heal from trauma.
Life situations that trigger trauma responses.
Obvious trauma triggers are being in a war zone, being attacked, or being in an accident. However trauma triggers also include:
- Growing up in a home where there is excessive shouting, arguing, and threatening behaviour, even if there is no physical violence involved
- Being sent away to a boarding school can be a trauma activating experience. Trauma triggering events can include (a)separation from family and friends (b)experience of bullying and abusive behaviour (c) being subject to corporal punishment (d)Being in a goal oriented environment where emotions are suppressed and not welcome.
- Unborn Babies can be traumatised when their mother has experienced a situation that has triggered her own trauma response
- Development Trauma Disorder where the child has been subject to neglect, physical and or emotional, poor bonding and attachment with parents and others, and can include being subject to violence, and manipulative and/ or abusive behaviour.
- Abuse of all sorts, financial, physical, sexual ritual emotional spiritual abuse, including being subject to or witnessing manipulative and undermining behaviour.
- Routine operations under anaesthetic, where the body interprets the operation as an attack , and mobilises energy for the body to fight or flee.
- Being in an accident where physical trauma happens, such as injury, whiplash, falling over and banging your head etc.
- Experiencing a major or life threatening illness such as Sepsis can also trigger PTSD depression or other symptoms.
- Harassment at work, or other environments, being stalked, witnessing verbal abuse and /or threatening behavior even when not directly being threatened or verbally abused.
The symptoms of trauma can include.
- Experiencing an adrenaline rush for no apparent reason, feeling panic, breathlessness, ( when there is nothing to panic about), intense anger management issues, a sense of wanting to fight or flee, when there is nothing in the environment that is threatening you.
- Being hyper alert to any dangers even when they are not there. having to sit near an escape route just encase a danger hits.
- Experiencing flashbacks. A flashback is where you are reliving one or more past trauma experience as if they were happening right now and it can be very frightening
- Experiencing Nightmares, that may include traumatic imagery and feelings of terror, and / or being frozen and not able to move.
- Experiencing a compulsive urge to reenact or recreate or act out the trauma scene. Seeking out dangerous situations that put you and potentially others at risk.
- Low tolerance including not dealing with different types of emotions and feelings, not accepting challenge or disagreements needing to control everything around you, or having the need to retreat when things get tough for example taking drugs, excessive drinking or distraction and coping strategies such as talking too fast and being in your head.
- A sense of being frozen, not in your body, a sense of not being present in the here and now, feeling numb, depressed, not in touch with yourself or others a real sense of disconnection for no apparent reason. Depression can often be linked to the ‘freeze-disassociation’ trauma response remembered by your body.
You do not need to experience all the above mentioned symptoms to have unresolved trauma issues. Also traumas that have arisen through a one off event, like a medical operation or dental procedure, may be easier to heal, then traumatisation through experience of repeated abuse.
The good news is that unresolved Trauma including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD can be healed. The journey is not always easy. There are a number of different elements to working with trauma.
The different elements of successful trauma treatment can include:
- Understanding Trauma. Just understanding what has happened to your body, and your responses, and how your body carries blocked trauma energy can be a good start. I offer a Trauma handout on this that explains the basics of what happens when people become traumatised. You can also take a look at my Trauma recommended reading and Video Trauma Resources Page
- Stabilisation using Affect Regulation Strategies. I offer a handout with strategies that can help you work with trauma symptoms in between therapy sessions.
- Allowing yourself to shake and tremble, can discharge the blocked trauma energy, especially when you understand that this response is your bodies attempt to heal you from the trauma.
- Your legs may feel like they want to run. Allowing yourself to do running motions, and imaginatively running to a safe space or place, or even actually running to a real place, ( as long as you do not get run over) can also discharge that blocked trauma energy.
- Working on resources. We can look to expanding your support networks, doing things that you really enjoy and help you to feel nurtured and give you hope
- Whole Body Focusing Psychotherapy can also help. Whole Body Focusing is a form of therapy, that uses the physical counselling space, to help you get emotional and actual space between yourself and the trauma. The less merged you are with the trauma responses, the more they begin to heal.
- You do not have to remember or relieve the trauma memories to heal from Trauma. We can work with your trauma experiences in a way that is safe and prevents you from experiencing being overwhelmed.
If you believe that you may be experiencing unresolved trauma issues’ including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Complex PTSD, then please contact me for more information and in initial meeting to work out a way of working that helps you to heal.