There are many things in life that can be traumatizing. We experience emotional trauma when we survive an incident or a pattern of events that threatened our physical and/or emotional sense of safety and security.
Trauma may be major, such as being sexual assaulted or abused, physically assaulted, witnessing or experiencing a violence, a car accident, a death or major loss of our home or property, war, illness, natural disaster, domestic abuse, the list keeps going.
Trauma can also come from non life threatening events such as finding out your partner has had an affair, job loss, relocation, ending relationships, changing jobs, child custody battle, divorce, or any of the millions of things we go through daily that cause great stress, anxiety, worry, or fear.
No matter what type trauma we experience, the reaction in the body is the same. Our brain releases chemicals that tell our nervous system to prepare for flight, flight, or freeze responses. Whether we resolve the trauma or not, the imprint remains in our brains and gets re-activated each time another situation presents itself...even if the new experience appears unrelated. Our body begins reacting, heart starts pumping, palms sweat, fear or anxiety increase. Depending on how we react to stress, we may react with anger or frustration, preparing to defend ourselves, protect ourselves, or just get out of the situation.
These responses are "shock" reactions stored in our system. This "shock" can be triggered by the slightest incident. Instantly, we regress to that part of us that controls our defense system. Almost as if our brain "forgets" that we are no longer in the present...it "thinks" we are back in that old experience and is ready to fight, flight, or freeze; without warning, and without apparent need.
Trauma is stored in the part of the brain where non-ordinary memory is stored. Meaning, it is instantly and sometime only recalled when a trigger causes it to resurface. In this state, normal coping skills are unreachable.
Trauma therapy focuses on working with the parts of the brain where these traumas are stored and begins the healing process, releasing the automatic fear response and increasing access to new and healthy coping mechanisms. Through the use of closed eye processes, we are able to bring about lasting healing.
Regardless of the type of trauma you have experienced, your therapist can help you work through your traumatic experience(s) and the aftermath by helping you create and build a new sense of power and control where none existed. With help, the path towards sleeping better, maintaining and creating healthier relationships, overcoming substance abuse and/or eating disorders, can be a reality.
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