Trauma Therapy

What is trauma?

Most of us are likely to know what trauma is and could give some examples. What's less widely understood is the lasting impact on us of trauma, even in cases where the traumatic experience may have happened a long time ago. 

In psychological terms, trauma can be:

  • a single traumatic event, or a series of events, at any stage of life

  • failed attachment experiences in early life (known as developmental trauma)

  • trauma that occurs over a period of time, such as sexual abuse or domestic violence (known as relational trauma)

The impact of trauma on us

Trauma can be devastating. The experience is too overwhelming for the brain to process, and remains unresolved and unintegrated in the body. It shows up as symptoms - emotional overwhelm, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, nightmares, zoning out, constantly looking out for danger, and substance abuse, to name a few.  Our threat reflex remains permanently switched on which, in some cases, can feel as though the traumatic memory continues to be relived over and over; this is what we call PTSD. 

 

How can trauma be treated in therapy?

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Internal Family Systems therapy offer a safe and effective way to work with unresolved trauma. 

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) attends not just to a client's mental experience, but also to their physical and emotional experiences, ie. helping not just the brain, but also the body. If you'd like to read more about SP, there is a good introduction on the BACP website entitled 'Trauma and the body' written by Tony Buckley. 

Internal Family Systems therapy offers a way to help the parts of us who remain stuck or frozen in time. They can be released from the extreme beliefs and emotions they were forced into by what happened at the time the trauma happened. Dr Richard Schwartz talks more about IFS and trauma on the British Psychological Society's website here.

If you think you might benefit from working in this way, or if you would like to discuss whether this could help you, you're welcome to get in touch with me. I'd be happy to hear from you. 

 

If you're interested to learn more about the impact of trauma on the nervous system, and the extent to which the body is involved in trauma and fear, listen to this helpful podcast by Andrew Huberman, Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine.