Recovery In Trauma

Recovery from trauma like any psychotherapy is very individual and now quite different from the approach a decade ago.  We now know that trauma, i.e. overwhelming and life threatening sudden life events, leave an imprint on the nervous system, and that talk therapy is often counterproductive.  Talking about what happened can further stimulate an already overstimulated nervous system.

Trauma therapy requires people to learn how to focus on body sensations gradually, allowing the body to complete the defensive response (fight/flight/freeze) that was not able to be completed at the time leaving the nervous system profoundly deregulated.   Ironically, time sort of freezes in this situation, or trauma from years past can still have a profound effect on the nervous system.  Typical early trauma, possibly PTSD, symptoms include hyper vigilance, sleep difficulties, flash backs or intrusive memories, panic attacks.  Later the nervous system becomes exhausted and depression can set in.

What is very individual is the level of trust the person has to work with, their ability to suspend head control and work with simpler tools like sensation and image. Another individual factor is how much trauma a person has experienced in their life, as well as their current stress level. Some folks have had a lot of early trauma and that usually means resources have to be built first.

Trauma is a lot like Velcro, it connects internally in the nervous system with other past traumas that our unrelated. Working with trauma is a little like working with fire. Fire keeps us warm, cooks food, but out of control, very destructive. Hence, work must be done in a way that is always building a sense of fuller safer contact with ones body. People with trauma generally disconnect from their body to some extent. This automatic disconnect is for protection and must be respected, not forced.

Also Read: Frozen by Fear-When Too Much Happens Too Fast

By Lynne Parsons, Psy.D. 
Published by Pardee Hospital in Health Talk