None of us are immune to trauma, it is a natural part of our human journey. Ironically, trauma also has the power to break us open to our truest nature. Generally, trauma is an overwhelming life experience that is so deeply distressing and disturbing that it could not be coped with. The impact was too much for the mind, body and spirit to process, and there was not enough resilience or resources to integrate it. We’ve all heard of someone going into shock when something overwhelmingly difficult occurs. The stress can be ongoing or event-related. Trauma creates disconnection, fragmentation and sometimes dissociation within oneself, with others, or even with God.
There are degrees of trauma that can be defined in terms of big T traumas and little T traumas.
Small T traumas are not threatening to one’s bodily safety or life, however they can still cause painful symptoms that are disruptive to daily functioning if not processed fully. I have often seen anxiety, depression and grief present as symptoms from unresolved trauma. Change which bring transitions like moving a home or a job, relationship stress in events such as divorce or infidelity, financial stress, medical procedures, and loss represent little T traumas to name a few.
Big T traumas bring severe distress and helplessness. They may be a one time event like 9-11, or a school shooting and these do threaten one’s bodily safety. Physical assault, a violent attack, war, child abuse, domestic violence, and natural catastrophes are some examples. Trauma diminishes one’s sense of self and robs one of the vitality of living. Not healing trauma shuts one off from their ability to relate fully, to be vulnerable and to feel.
Healing trauma is not done in working with the event itself but in how one experienced and perceives it, and how it was recorded in the brain and nervous system. Responses to traumatic events are unique to each person and are defined by the experience of the survivor. We have all heard of PTSD which is a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event. See the article in the Links section of my site if you would like to read more specifically about trauma and the mental and medical conditions that can result in unprocessed trauma.
I have learned in my work that talk therapy, in some cases, is not enough. This led me to become trained and now certified in a cutting edge therapy developed, out of the more familiar EMDR, by David Grand, PHD called Brainspotting. This brain and body based therapy is excellent at bypassing the neocortex of the brain, where talk therapy happens, and going deeper into the autonomic nervous system within the limbic system of the brain where upsetting memories and unprocessed emotions are stored. Please see a more comprehensive article on Brainspotting in the Links section if you’d like to know more.
This training has changed my practice and is a very effective physiological process with psychological benefits. We are wise to understand that all one needs to heal already resides inside of one’s own self. This scientific approach has taken the best of brain-based therapies and talk therapies to allow the client to access their brain’s self-scanning and self-healing properties.