What therapists hear from adults:
Maybe you think that if you weren’t sexually or physically abused, you were not traumatized as a child. But still, there are “t” traumas and “T” traumas.
Small “t” traumas are circumstances where one’s bodily safety or life is not threatened, but cause symptoms of trauma nonetheless. They do not seem small when they occur and even though our physical safety is not jeopardized our experience can be as of extreme danger and unsafety.
Large “T” traumas are extraordinary experiences that bring about severe distress and helplessness. They are almost impossible to outlook, but still are often actively avoided.
Trauma is the response to a distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual and diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences. It can be a one-time event, a prolonged event, or a sequence of events. If it affects a community or country, we call it collective trauma.
Trauma affects the cognitive and emotional system, as well as a physical, spiritual, and social system. For example, traumatic events can make us feel unable to make good judgments, feel shame, anger, guilt, pain, but it also affects muscles, joints, digestion, sleep, immune system. Trauma can change the way we observe the world and ourselves or our future, how we see reality, and how we understand the meaning of life. It also affects relationships with other people.
Myths about trauma
You think if you were not abused, you were not traumatized. Trauma does not involve only large “T” traumas.
“I don’t have trauma, I had a great childhood.” Almost everyone had some kind of traumatic experience in their life. This event does not necessarily involve your parents or mean neighbor who abused you.
“I am so strong, I can do it all alone.” Maybe you are resilient and strong personality, but people are not islands. We need other people to overcome traumatic events.
“I am forever marked by my trauma.” Yes, trauma can change you in a good or bad way, but you are not what happened to you, you are what you choose to become! You can’t change what happened to you in the past, but you can change how you see it, how you accept it, and what do you do with it.
Here is a brain scan done by Dr. Daniel Amen. It can be easily seen how the healthy brain differs from the traumatized brain. The brain damage can be see in in the black areas which represent areas of inactivity.
The good news is that contrary to medical opinion until quite recently, the latest neuroscience highlights that our brains can heal from trauma damage. Psychotherapy can really transform the way your brain works, it can heal you from trauma and it’s consequences.
Therapy approaches to help you heal from trauma
COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY (CBT)
CBT is a type of psychotherapy that has consistently been found to be the most effective treatment of PTSD both in the short term and the long term. CBT for PTSD is trauma-focused, meaning the trauma event(s) are the center of the treatment. What are CBT therapists doing?
- Teaching individuals how to breathe to manage anxiety and stress
- Educating individuals on normal reactions to trauma
- Exposure therapy
- Identifying and evaluating negative, incorrect, and irrational thoughts and replacing them with more accurate and less negative thoughts.
EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING (EMDR)
An EMDR session follows a preset sequence of 8 steps or phases. Treatment involves the person in therapy mentally focusing on the traumatic experience or negative thought while visually tracking a moving light or the therapist’s moving finger. Auditory tones may also be used in some cases. The debate regarding whether eye movements are truly necessary exists within the field of psychology, but the treatment is highly effective for the alleviation and elimination of symptoms of trauma and other distress.
There is no one rule for hypnotherapy. In general, a hypnotherapist guides the individual in therapy into a hypnotic state, then engages the person in conversation or speaks to the person about a certain key issue. Most hypnotherapists believe that the emotions and thoughts that an individual comes into contact with while under hypnosis are crucial to healing as hypnosis aims at the subconscious level.
You can recover from all that happened to you. You don’t need to forget the harsh lessons in your life. You need to integrate them into your personality, into your life and let them help you grow into a better and stronger person. Someone smart once said: “If you never heal from what hurt you, you will bleed on people who did not cut you.” Your trauma is not your fault, but your healing is your responsibility.
As Dolly Parton said: “Storms make trees take deeper roots.” It is the same with trauma. Once you are healed from trauma, once you integrate it into your life and your personality, you will become better off healed than you ever were while you were still unbroken.
Never give up on yourself, just keep going on, step by step, step by step. Even the smallest steps are better than no steps at all. Just keep walking. Step by step, step by step. Once you fall, accept the hand trying to help you. And keep walking.