Trauma therapy addresses the emotional, psychological and relational impact of having lived through an overwhelming, often terrifying, experience or series of events. Whether traumatic stress is the result of incidents such as a motor vehicle accident, child sexual abuse, rape, or the sudden tragic loss of a loved one, there may be debilitating short and long-term effects. The meaning attributed to the event also plays a role in the post-traumatic response.
Immediate symptoms may include nightmares, flashbacks, sleep or appetite problems, mood disturbance, irritability, hypervigilance (constantly scanning the environment for safety), a sense of helplessness, emotional detachment or numbing. If the trauma is chronic or occurred early in life, there can be a profound impact on the ability to trust others and to regulate emotions.
Over time, adaptive strategies may develop in an effort to manage the symptoms, such as self-injurious behaviour, substance abuse or dissociation. While seen as useful in the short-term to avoid emotional pain and manage symptoms, they can take over and cause difficulties with functioning (e.g. at work, with intimate relationships).
Your efforts to manage overwhelming symptoms can be seen as signs of resilience: they helped you cope and survive. If you are considering trauma therapy, you may have realized that they no longer serve you as well as they did in the past.
How does Trauma Therapy help?
Trauma therapy is a specific approach to healing and moves at a pace that you can handle. The first stage focuses on safety and stabilization. During this stage, you are given information (psychoeducation) about trauma and the trauma response, you will develop your capacity to tolerate and manage intense emotions, enhance your ability to keep yourself safe, and increase your supports/resources. The second stage of trauma treatment involves processing the traumatic material. This may include memories, re-establishing boundaries, and increasing the capacity to be in relationship with others. The third and final stage of trauma treatment focuses on integration and reconnection. Throughout the three stages, the mind-body connection is illuminated as I employ the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy model when working with trauma.
Learn more about using Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and trauma therapy.