Thursday, 9 April 2015

Trauma education series introduction: What is trauma?

I am passionate about sharing what I know about trauma, especially now  having finished my three year training in Somatic Experiencing. I have sat down and written six articles on the following topics:

  1.     Freeze state that follows fight flight survival mechanism
  2.    Reptilian, mammal and rational brain “speak” different languages
  3.     How the self soothing Parasympathetic Nerve develops and how patterns of        worrying and over-thinking can be set up in childhood
  4.    Corrective experience creates a new imprint in cells of our body
  5.   When sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve go into chaos and trauma        symptoms take over

I will start posting them each one week apart on the weekend (I am away this weekend without internet, so this one comes early) . If you like these posts, please share them. Information on trauma is something that needs to go viral. I am often stunned how little even professionals know about trauma.

What is trauma? It’s an event that is potentially life threatening (like a car crash where nothing much gets damaged and you walk away apparently unscathed  - it still has the potential to be life threatening and you might develop trauma symptoms). 
Trauma is also when we sense we have no control, feel overwhelmed and our whole organism is strained beyond its adaptional capacity. The Nervous system cannot restore to balance when it holds highly activated survival energies frozen in time (Maybe you wanted to turn the wheel around, but you couldn't as something was in the way – but your arm muscles still prepared for the turning of  the wheel). Biological responses that couldn't be completed at the time (as not enough time or resources were available or as it was not safe to do so) are stored in the body, signalling the brain that the trauma isn't over when in fact it might have finished years ago. Here an incomplete list of possible traumas:

·         Neglect and abuse in childhood
·         Attachment issues (avoidant, ambivalent or disorganized)
·         Accidents and falls (often overlooked!!!)
·         Birth trauma
·         Previous hospitalisations and Medical interventions (also often overlooked)
·         Over anxious parent
·         Sexual abuse
·         Domestic Violence
·         Transition issues
·         Loss of loved one
·         Lack of support
·         Generational inherited trauma
·         Natural and man-made catastrophes

Even if you can’t remember the trauma, because you subconsciously wanted to forget it (dissociating and forgetting is often a reaction to trauma) or you where too young to remember it (the hyopocampus brain, which helps us build memory isn't fully developed in younger years yet) – the body remembers every trauma! It then gives signals off that something isn't right which causes disruption in our organism and effects our nervous system, brain and mental health.(Effects of trauma have been named in my last post.)

Most of us have experienced some sort of trauma in our lives - how well we recovered depends on how early we experience the trauma (how helpless where we?), how severe or how ongoing it was and how much support we received afterwards.

I consider myself very fortunate and am grateful that I have had extensive trauma training, I feel humbled being able to help people recover from trauma. I have had my own share of trauma as most professionals do drawn to this profession and I can see in myself the amazing changes and shifts that occur due to the right care for my own nervous system.

Reading my posts you will hopefully understand why normal talking therapy doesn't work with trauma clients – all parts of the brain need to be targeted and the Autonomic Nervous System needs assistance  to reorganize in a more coherent and healthy way. My understanding of trauma has been informed by many years of personal growth work, training I have been offering myself on “practical neuroscience” and my Somatic Experiencing and EMDR training. If you are interested in reading more I suggest Peter Levine’s book “Waking the tiger”.

Should you miss a post, just check out my facebook page “Barbara Schmidt Counselling Somatic” or have a look under the blog section on my web site

Have a great day,
 Counselling Somatic
Barbara Schmidt MAASW (Acc.)

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