Trauma is often an underlying cause of emotional or behavioral symptoms. Sometimes people do not even realize that they are being affected by trauma until they come to a session and start working on their problems. While it is impossible to eradicate a traumatic event from existence, it is possible to treat the resulting trauma and deal with it in a healthy way.
What is trauma?
Trauma is a response to deeply distressing events that overwhelm our ability to cope with life and behave normally. Anything can provoke trauma. We do not get to decide what is and is not traumatic to people. For instance, the loss of a pet could be traumatic for one person, but not another.
Symptoms of trauma include:
- Difficulties sleeping or altered sleeping patterns.
- Having flashbacks or zoning out during negative events.
- Persistent anxiety, depression, fear, or shame.
- Inability to control feelings and emotions.
- Strong feelings of anger or emotional outbursts.
- Difficulties maintaining relationships.
- Problems with substance abuse.
Symptoms often vary from person to person, and events can affect people in very different ways.
Before entering therapy, it is important to understand that the healing process is not linear. Some days, months, years even, will feel better. But with a single trigger, you may feel down again. Part of dealing with trauma is learning to view the traumatic experience differently and moving past illogical concepts.
For example, a victim of sexual assault may keep thinking about the shirt they wore on the day of the traumatic event. They may get stuck on the idea that if they had not worn that particular shirt, then the incident would have never happened. Instead, they should strive to look at it from a different perspective: no matter what shirt they wore, that person did not have a right to violate them in that way. Adjusting one’s perspective helps alleviate shame or blame that they are unfairly placing on themselves, preventing them from healing.
Steps for treating trauma:
- Coping skills.
- Story exploration.
- Moving forward.
Throughout all the steps, I may have to teach self-regulation and coping skills. If we are working on a psychoeducational piece of the trauma during a session, but the patient is having trouble sleeping, I will address the symptom. I look at their body to see if there is much tension, a fast heart rate, or other physical indicators. Using this knowledge, I will provide them with ways to help combat the symptoms that are negatively affecting them.
Methods for treating trauma include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Attachment Therapy
- Somatic Therapy
One of the unique attributes of trauma is its effect on the brain and nervous system. Trauma is stored in the limbic system, in the mammalian part of the brain, and can affect the body in different ways. Consequently, talk therapy is not effective for everyone and a Bottom-Up approach is often useful. The Bottom-Up method focuses on acquiring information from the body’s sensations and integrating the whole brain to assist with healthy regulation.
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I can help you attain the personal growth you truly desire.