what is trauma?
Over the course of our lifetime, all humans experience events that impact our nervous system. These events may feel stressful and create activation in the brain and body at the time. Whether or not it creates trauma for the individual however, is dependent on how that person has perceived that experience and the meaning they made as a result of it. This is why different individuals experiencing the same or similar events, may be impacted differently by it.
Often when we think about trauma, we consider only the “big T” traumas such as road accidents, significant losses and injury, major transitions, vicarious trauma, witnessing or experiencing abuse, traumatic birth, relationship ruptures, attachment trauma and bullying.
Trauma however also includes “little t” traumas. These don’t make the headlines, but they have a significant impact on our functioning too. Little t’ traumas include moments that have also had an effect on our nervous system but while they are stressful at the time, they don’t completely flood the nervous system in the way that a big T trauma may. These are traumas that can accumulate and compound into symptoms of unprocessed trauma across time. Kind of like a “death by a thousand cuts.”
“Little t” traumas could include experiences causing actual or perceived humilliation, embarrassment, shame or judgement. They could include actual or perceived social or emotional rejection. The challenge that comes when relationships change in painful ways as well as aversive experiences that create an emotional charge and “stay with you” over time.
When experiences are perceived as being traumatic, they can leave an “emotional charge” behind. Sometimes when we think of those times it feels “like it was just yesterday” when that happened and that emotional charge is still there, even when a lot of time has passed. That feeling, is a clue that we have unprocessed trauma we are holding.
This moment can influence our belief system about ourselves or our world. It is the altered, negative perception that gets made that lead to us showing symptoms of trauma.
how i work with trauma
Over the past 20 years of my work in the human services field I have worked with an exhaustive list of traumatic experiences.
Current theory recognises that trauma is created in the body and needs to be healed through the body. For this reason, the World Health Organisation recommends EMDR as a first line treatment for trauma.
When working with trauma I use multiple modalities including but not limited to:
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Somatic Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Theory (CBT).
I have completed training in EMDR (Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Level 1 and 2 as well as G-TEP (Group Traumatic Experiences Protocol) which is the group adaptation of EMDR. I am currently working towards becoming fully accredited as an EMDR practitioner at a higher level.
I have also completed the Somatic Experiencing – Beginner 1 training and will be continuing towards completion of the Somatic Experiencing Practitioner qualification over the next 3 years.