What Is Trauma?
Trauma may begin as acute stress from a perceived life-threat or as the end product of cumulative stress. Both types of stress can seriously impair a person’s ability to function with resilience and ease. Trauma may result from a wide variety of stressors such as accidents, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, birth trauma, or the corrosive stressors of ongoing fear and conflict.
No two people are exactly alike when it comes to trauma. There are so many factors involved that depend upon genetic make-up, an individual’s traumatic history, sensitivity of the nervous system, hormonal and chemical make-up and more. Knowing that certain kinds of childhood experiences can impair our ability to cope and be present may elicit empathy and support rather than harsh judgement. Human beings are born with an innate capacity to triumph over trauma. Not only is it preventable and curable, but the healing process can lead to profound transformation and awakening.
What Can Make An Event Traumatic?
Potentially traumatic events can be caused by a singular occasion, or from ongoing, relentless stresses. A potentially traumatic event is more prone to leave an individual with longer-lasting emotional and psychological trauma if:
- The individual was unprepared for the event
- The event occurred out of the blue
- The person felt powerless to prevent the event
- The event occurred repeatedly (such as child abuse)
- If the event involved extreme cruelty
- If the event occurred during the childhood years
Many people experience strong physical or emotional reactions immediately following the experience of a traumatic event. Most people will notice that their feelings dissipate over the course of a few days or weeks. However, for some individuals, the symptoms of psychological trauma may be increasingly severe and last longer.
Some of the most common symptoms of psychological trauma may include the following:
- Intrusive thoughts of the event that may occur out of the blue
- Visual images of the event
- Loss of memory and concentration abilities
- Mood swings
- Avoidance of activities or places that trigger memories of the event
- Social isolation and withdrawal
- Lack of interest in previously-enjoyable activities
- Easily startled
- Tremendous fatigue and exhaustion
- Chronic muscle patterns
- Sexual dysfunction
- Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- Vague complaints of aches and pains throughout the body
- Extreme alertness; always on the lookout for warnings of potential danger
- Overwhelming fear
- Obsessive and compulsive behaviors
- Detachment from other people and emotions
- Emotional numbing
- Guilt – especially if one lived while others perished
- Emotional shock
- Panic attacks
I have training in trauma work in Somatic Experiencing (SE). I am currently completing my second year of the 3 year SE training program.
Somatic Experiencing is a natural method of trauma treatment that is effective, short term, and body-awareness oriented. It is the result of over forty years of observation, research, and hands on development by Dr. Peter Levine. Human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma through restoring self regulation of the autonomic nervous system. The body bears the burden of trauma as much as the brain does. The body communicates to the brain and the brain communicates back to the body, these systems are not actually separate. By working with both in a systemic fashion, trauma can be healed more completely. It is also a very gentle approach, many who think that they should seek trauma treatment are hesitant because trauma recovery sounds frightening or too painful. Somatic Experiencing is perfect for those who have these kind of worries because it works with the body to relieve trauma symptoms naturally. To learn more about SE, please visit www.traumahealing.com