Trauma and PTSD What is Trauma? Trauma is an emotional response from either experiencing or witnessing a terrible event or a harmful relationship. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition in that the emotional response to trauma has become prolonged and results in several trauma responses.
How is Trauma Experienced? Trauma can occur through direct experiences such as war, crime, abusive relationships, or vicarious (observed) trauma such as witnessing a crime or accident, by-stander events, or the effects of intergenerational trauma (the trauma response of a previous generation that is learned and “passed down” through a family).
Frequent Trauma Responses
Feeling helpless, fearful, or sad
Easily agitated, or having angry outbursts
Blaming self, or having a negative view of self
Struggling to trust others, or feeling detached
Feeling out of control
Being withdrawn, isolating
Unable to concentrate, or make decisions
Easily startled or “jumpy”
Feeling “on guard” all the time
Experiencing upsetting nightmares or flashbacks
Rapid and shallow breathing, or feeling “shaky”
Frequent headaches, or sweating, or stomach upset
Not keeping up with health – nutrition, exercise, sleep
Self-medicating or “numbing” with food, alcohol, sex
Trauma Treatment Trauma therapy works best as a whole-body approach. Traumatic experiences and memories are felt within the body (see trauma responses above) and processed by the brain which can often result in the brain-body disconnect of trauma.
Eye Movement, Desensitization and Re-Processing (EMDR) is a highly recognized therapy for the treatment of trauma. As a trained EMDR therapist, I have witnessed clients experience great benefit from this therapy modality, and I can also express my own personal benefit from having received EMDR treatment. In addition to EMDR, some may find the “re-seeing” of their story through Narrative therapy to offer a reduction in PTSD symptoms as well.
Trauma Resources The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman, M.D. On the Threshold of Hope by Diane Langberg Healing the Wounded Heart by Dan Allender EMDR International Association: https://www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy/