What is trauma?
I sum up trauma simply by explaining it as a significant negative life experience that affects you deeply. Often times, trauma can affect us emotionally, psychologically, and physically to the point that it seems to be getting in the way of your life – relationships, jobs, hobbies, personal growth, etc.
Trauma can be anything to anyone really. A trauma to someone might not be a trauma to another person so if your questioning and thinking that you might have trauma, you probably do. Don’t feel discouraged though, it isn’t a bad thing or a label or something that you can’t move past and that’s what I’m hear for – to help you move past the trauma and be your authentic self.
Trauma isn’t something that defines you, but rather it is something that happens to you.
“Trauma? I mean, my parents didn’t beat me or anything like that”
Again, a lot of things can be considered traumatic and I’ve seen people downplay the events that have happened to them in their lives because they weren’t beaten or compare it to some other event that they consider traumatic.
Surprisingly enough – or not surprisingly depending on how you look at it, but most of the trauma that I work on with my clients have to do with attachment trauma.
What’s attachment trauma?
First, we must understand attachment. Secure attachment is formed between an infant and its primary caregiver when the infant receives love, soothing, smiles, touch, eye contact, in addition to basic needs being met (food, diaper changes, etc).
A variety of traumas can happen in infancy and childhood that can lead to a child to not develop a secure attachment with his/her primary caregiver. Separation from the caregiver, neglect or abuse from the caregiver and that includes not just physical and sexual but also emotional and verbal as well. The child learns to sooth and develop his/her esteem, trust, and confidence based on the attachment with the primary caregiver. If these needs are not met attachment trauma can develop.
It is through impaired attachment that negative core beliefs about oneself can really take a strong hold in a persons psyche.
Attachment issues can result in a variety of problems in adulthood including issues in romantic relationships, friendships, issues on the job, as well as poor eating and self care habits.
How can trauma affect you?
Trauma often affects people though symptoms such as
- physical anxiety symptoms (shakiness, sweating, increased heart rate)
- feel numb
If these symptoms sound like you, you may be suffering from PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder).
Not everyone that experiences trauma develops PTSD. Sometimes people will suffer from other anxiety symptoms, or depression, but the root is of problem is still within the unhealed traumatic event.
Time does not heal all wounds…..
When traumatic events are not properly healed they become locked in our brain… in our nervous system. When someone experiences multiple traumatic events then the brain experiences a host of unhealed memories. The more memories someone has and the more intense they are, the more symptoms someone is likely to experience. Therefore the severity of the effects of trauma can have a large range!
How do you treat trauma?
There are multiple ways that therapists go about trauma treatment and some of them have been very successful. I use a method called EMDR – Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. I use this method because I have found it to be helpful when other modalities have not been successful. EMDR can stop the above symptoms by helping the person to heal from the memory, the beliefs about the memory, and the physical sensations from the memory. By addressing all of these areas, a complete healing process occurs resulting in remission of symptoms and overall improvement of health and well being.