What Do I Mean By Trauma?
Sometimes people don't define certain life experiences they have had as "traumatic." Sometimes the word seems too big, too significant, too powerful. One way to describe trauma is an overwhelming stress or threat, real or perceived, that our body and mind have gone through. Sometimes that threat or stress can become “stuck” in our bodies and impact how we carry on with our day-to-day lives. That stuck energy can prevent us from thriving and we simply feel like we are surviving.
Trauma can be experienced differently by different people. Sometimes we notice changes in mood, anxiety symptoms, physical ailments, flashbacks or nightmares, or disconnection from others. Some folks are given a diagnosis, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), while others are not. What one person might identify as being traumatic to them might be completely inconsequential to someone else. Sometimes it can be a slow-burning stress throughout our lives. Sometimes it can be a series of events that overwhelm our nervous systems. And sometimes one event can bring about a shift that shakes our sense of safety and selves to the core.
Without getting stuck on semantics of language or labels, it can be helpful to speak with a professional that understands the impact of trauma and can help you make sense of your experience in your own words.
I approach trauma work holistically — paying attention to the mind, the body, and how the environment around us impacts our reactions and responses as we go through life. Counselling will always look different for everyone as we all have our own unique personalities, genetic make-up, and experiences. However some of what we might explore would include:
- Creating a sense of emotional and physical safety and stabilization
- Grounding techniques
- Understanding about the neurobiology of trauma
- Identifying "fight/flight/freeze" responses
- Self-regulation skills
- Flashback and nightmare support
- Feelings of shame and guilt
- Processing past traumatic events/memories
- Moving beyond the trauma to explore what life might be like in the near and distant future
- Resiliency and strength
Theories and Therapeutic Approaches
Everyone's experience of trauma is different, which is why I will discuss options about tools and approaches that we can work with in session. I use various therapeutic approaches and theories that influence and form the basis of the trauma work I do, including:
- Judith Herman's "Tri-Phasic" approach to trauma (safety & stabilization, trauma memory processing, reconnection)
- Somatic Experiencing™ (SE)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Parts work
- Art therapy
- Attachment theory
- Neurobiology and nervous system responses to trauma
No matter the tools and skills used, I strive to work from a client-centred and anti-oppressive framework. Working gently and respectfully, I support those I work with to find different ways to relate to themselves, to the world, and to their past experiences. Even if the word "trauma" does not resonate, but you might find my approach to be helpful, I invite you to contact me.