Often when we think of treatment for trauma, we conjure up images of people who have developed PTSD from recently experiencing a horrifying event where they nearly died, were seriously injured from physical or sexual violence, or have witnessed others tragically die. When we think of historical trauma, thoughts of physical or sexual abuse of individuals when they were in their childhood, comes to mind. However, an event can also be seen as ‘traumatic’ if it has been extremely upsetting to the point of temporarily overwhelming a person’s internal resources. Extreme emotional abuse or major losses would then be included in our definition of trauma.
Some people experience multiple traumatic events and develop Complex PTSD. Those who as children were abused and/or neglected, can develop Complex Traumatic Stress disorder. With both of these complex conditions, therapy may take time, but profound positive change is possible; I have witnessed this!
We humans are processing all the time – attempting to get better … all the time; but sometimes we need some assistance in the process.
I believe trauma therapy should be holistic and individualized in a way that addresses the uniqueness of your circumstances and your personal internal resources. Therapy needs to be a collaborative working relationship, where you come to feel it is safe to work through the traumatic experience. ‘Working through’ the trauma involves exploring how you think about what you experienced, the feelings that come up for you, and also, how this might have affected your connection with your spiritual self.
There is also the need to explore how the trauma event has affected your body. Giving voice to the tension in your body, or noticing your posture and tendency to tense up in ways that reflect actions that were not possible at the time of the trauma event, are all important to work through. Slowly developing self-soothing skills is also part of effective treatment. And finally, connecting with supportive family and friends is encouraged as part of the overall approach to treatment.