Thoughts on Trauma
Trauma can come in big and small packages. In can be created by a single episode or repeated experience. Each person's experience of trauma is uniquely their own and should never be compared to any other person's. Too often, we unconsciously trivialize our experiences by comparing our story to someone else's, and in doing so, create guilt and shame about the way we are feeling or coping with an experience. All this self judgment complicates the already complex recovery process. It's important to remember that what is a traumatic event for one person, may not be one for another because we all have an individualized experience! This experience is colored by our genetic makeup, generational heritage, and environment.
Just like one person has high blood pressure and another doesn't, we aren't able to control the genes we have and how they impact our health but we can control some of the things we do to help manage our health and our response to our body's conditions. If we experience a trauma, being educated about how the body and brain impact the processing of the event can be incredibly helpful. Then it becomes easier to focus on what we can do to improve our management of our responses to the trauma. Understanding the physical responses of the body and the brain can help relieve some of our self criticism and the gnawing feeling that we should have done something differently. Once we recognize what's within our control, we can focus our attention and forge new strategies to manage symptoms like anxiety, panic, and insomnia. Adjusting our belief systems, biases and opinions about how we 'should' act can empower us and focus our attention to things we can impact.
There is no perfect formula or 'right' response to a trauma. We respond the best way we can in the moment and the moments that come after. Eventually, if we develop awareness, we become empowered to choose coping mechanisms that may serve us better or in a healthier manner and we begin to feel better. We also come to befriend our body and develop some self compassion. My approach to trauma work is very individualized, but always focuses on building grounding skills and safety plans before we go further. I believe there is great value in learning about the actual structure of the brain and body when dealing with trauma and share this information liberally. This creates a foundation for learning and practicing the skills that will help with any symptoms that are identified. Because I am a brain and body based therapist, Brain Spotting is a technique that I believe can be very helpful to address trauma and other issues. Read more about that HERE.