There is no shortage of psychological trauma in our world: experiences that cause us to feel highly overwhelmed and helpless. Countless clients enter counseling to find relief from it and there are many effective treatment options available.
There is no shortage of psychological trauma in our world: experiences that cause us to feel highly overwhelmed and helpless. Countless clients enter counseling to find relief from it and there are many effective treatment options available. The first step is becoming aware of how psychological trauma shows up in our lives.
What is traumatizing for you might be different than what is traumatizing for someone else. It can be a one-time event, like a violent crime or natural disaster, or a repeated occurrence, such as in the case of childhood abuse and neglect. An experience becomes traumatic when we feel so threatened and overwhelmed that we are unable to process it at the time. Our minds go offline and our bodies shut down to get through it. The fight, flight, or freeze response kicks in and, unfortunately for us, our stress response sometimes gets stuck in the “on” position.
It is hard to be constantly switched “on.” We might feel tired, irritable, and emotional. We might suffer from seemingly inexplicable headaches, stomachaches, and other bodily aches and pains. Our lives might be interrupted by panic attacks, heart attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares. These symptoms seriously interfere with our ability to lead the lives that we desire- but, thankfully, they are not permanent.
Just as experiencing psychological trauma is part of being human, it is in our nature to heal. There are many things that we can do to assist in our recovery. Talking with a trusted friend or counselor, making art, seeking spiritual support, and undergoing specialized trauma treatment all help provide relief from trauma-related symptoms.
Our healing depends upon our ability to stay in touch with ourselves as we process the traumatic event. This might sound a bit scary but a counselor who has been trained to work with trauma will teach you skills to stay calm and as you process your experience so that it doesn’t overwhelm you. Together, you and your counselor will come up with a plan that’s just for you and keeps you in the driver’s seat.
Today’s counselors can help clients recovering from trauma with a wide variety of tools in addition to talk-therapy, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Rapid Trauma Resolution (RTR). These methods work by de-activating traumatic memories, which are stored differently in the mind than other memories. Once we remove the charge of old experiences, new perspectives are able to take root, opening the door to increased levels of health and wellbeing.
Trauma is a heavy subject. You might notice some tension in your body, right now. As you read this last paragraph, I invite you to take a deep breath. Notice the natural rhythm of your chest rising and falling. Notice your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations and the sights, smells, and sounds around you. Just for a moment, see if you can let it all be and be easy with your self in this imperfect world in which we live.