What is Trauma?

When there are no words ...

Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes. For some people, trauma is a single event which creates a “Before” and “After” effect. For others, trauma is a series of seemingly more minor experiences that blend together to create as sense of “just not coping.” Often, a common denominator of trauma is that people feel stuck. Stuck in a conundrum of negative thoughts like I’m not good enough or I should have known better. Stuck in a series of bad relationships. Stuck in a barrage of images and intrusive thoughts that lace their existence and bring back those horrible memories of a time they’d like to forget. Stuck in physical pain that gets exacerbated by stress – aches, pains, headaches, stomach aches, back pain, jaw pain and joint pain.

 

Often, there are no words to describe the experience or its effects. It is experienced in images, thoughts, and body sensations. Talking about it can make it worse and increase the negative effects.

I use EMDR and/or Brainspotting to treat trauma. EMDR is an approach that is endorsed by the World Health Organisation for the treatment of trauma. Brainspotting developed out of EMDR several years ago. A hallmark of both EMDR and Brainspotting is that you don’t have to do a lot of talking. Rather, the therapist sets up the conditions to enable your brain to heal and reprocess the experience - similar to the process of dreaming. At the beginning of a session, before you’re processed the trauma, it may feel like it is happening now and you have all of the emotional charge and feelings such as intense fear.

 

When the processing has been completed, you can think back to the experience with a sense of disconnection almost like you’re looking at a photo and you know it happened, and intellectually it is still disturbing, but the emotional charge is gone. After EMDR and or Brainspotting, clients often describe it as having the trauma discharged from their bodies. They feel like they’re functioning in the present without being in a cloud of trauma.

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