Recovering from Trauma
The effects of Trauma can feel like an endless journey but there is light at the end of the tunnel
What is Trauma?
When extremely stressful and difficult events happen in your life, you are usually able to process them. You might feel like crying or getting angry but you are able to talk about it to help release the emotions and come to terms with what has happened. You are usually able to eventually accept it, and it becomes part of your personal experience.
But trauma is different. Trauma goes way beyond your normal capacity to cope. It is an overwhelming feeling of intense fear, helplessness and powerlessness, that you find extremely hard to put into words, let alone process.
Trauma stays with you on both a psychological and a physical level. It is rooted in a series of reactions in the body to a real or perceived life-threatening event, that the body struggles to assimilate as something that has happened. This series of physical responses that are designed to protect you in the short-term, can become problematic in the long-term.
Trauma changes how you view the world. A trauma world-view is constantly sensing danger and threat as you become hypervigilant in an attempt to survive and feel safe. However the real danger is actually on the inside, as you can struggle to gain stability and emotional and physical regulation.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop immediately after the disturbing event or it can occur, weeks, months or even years later. The types of events that can lead to PTSD
- Rape/sexual assault
- Domestic Violence
- Childhood abuse- sexual, physical, emotional, neglect
- Witnessing a traumatic event
- Serious health problems
- Childbirth experiences/losing a baby
- Natural disasters
- Road traffic Accidents
Complex-PTSD can develop following repeated or multiple experiences of trauma. It shares all the symptoms of PTSD with additional complexities and you are more likely to be diagnosed with C-PTSD when:
- The trauma lasted for a long time
- Escape or rescue were unlikely or even impossible
- You have experienced multiple traumas
- Trauma was on-going
- You were harmed by someone close to you
- You were abused in childhood
- There is still contact with the person responsible
- Trauma was caused by a parent or career
- Slavery and sex-trafficking
Trauma symptoms can manifest in many ways and symptoms can vary. It is important to remember that whatever symptom you may be experiencing is a ‘normal’ response to a traumatic event.
They include emotional, physical and psychological symptoms and can sometimes lead to more self-destructive ways of coping.
Recovering from Trauma
Recovery from trauma is possible. As a Trauma Informed Therapist, I have undertaken specialist training in working with client’s affected by trauma and who have been diagnosed with both PTSD and C-PTSD and have worked within several specialist trauma counselling organisations.
It is really important when working with trauma that it is done so in stages. This is essential to minimise the risk of re-traumatisation and further damage to an already fragile grip on day-to-day functioning. Depending on the nature of the trauma, the work can be complex and lengthy but will help you to start living instead of just surviving.
Stage 1 – Safety and Stabilisation – use of psychoeducation to help you take charge of the dysregulation that occurs with trauma and to help you to regain a sense of safety in your body, your environment and your emotions.
Stage 2 – Processing the traumatic memories – help you to make sense of the trauma, piecing together meanings and cognitions into a personal narrative. It is not necessary to remember all the details, rather the focus is on finding a way to come to terms with the trauma.
Stage 3- Integration and moving on – begin work on decreasing a sense of shame or alienation, developing a greater capacity for intimacy in relationships and building connections, exploring personal and professional goals, finding meaning out of surviving and healing from trauma and having a healthy and healed self that can live in the present.
The Rewind Technique
I have also undertaken training in the use of The Rewind Technique.
The Rewind Technique (RT) is a therapeutic tool that was developed by Dr David Muss in the 1990s as a treatment for trauma and is based around using imagery. It is categorised as an exposure technique in dealing with trauma and as such requires that a person feel safe enough before approaching the memory.
However, one of the benefits of using Rewind Technique is that you do not need to disclose any details around the trauma for it to be effective. It can be used for single traumatic event or used multiple times where there is more complex trauma. It does not erase the memory, which you can recall at any time, but rather it can help you to ‘dissociate’ from the feelings associated with it. It can also help to stop involuntary recalls in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks and other symptoms.
The Rewind Technique has been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of PTSD and trauma, but research shows that when used a stand-alone technique, the evidence is much weaker. When treating trauma it is important that any technique is used appropriately and therefore if you feel you would benefit from using the Rewind Technique, I would do so as a Stage 2 intervention along with other approaches such as Hypnotherapy and EFT.
If you would like me to help you on your recovery journey from trauma click on the link below.