Trauma is a physiological (body) state that people experience when something life-threatening happens to them or when they witness someone else in danger. For most people, the feeling passes when the experience is over, but about 20% of people continue to stay in this body state days, months, even years afterward. Sometimes, people feel fine for a long time, then a current event triggers the trauma state, and they feel as if it is happening all over again. This is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Trauma occurs as a result of accidents, natural disasters, sexual or physical assault, abuse in childhood, involvement in critical incidents for first responders, physical injuries, being a victim of a crime, and even from experiences as a child in the womb when the mother is traumatized. It can happen after a single incident, or it can be the consequence of a series of life events or having grown up in an unsafe environment, known as complex PTSD.
Some symptoms of PTSD are:
- Feeling scared all the time and not knowing why
- Nightmares and insomnia
- Startling easily at everyday things
- Re-enacting the trauma situation in current relationships
- Feeling anxious about certain smells, tastes, sensations, or types of lighting without knowing why
- Fear of being in public or going to certain places
- Flashbacks and intrusive, disturbing thoughts and memories
- Emotional meltdowns that aren’t about what’s happening in the present moment
- Sudden changes in sleeping and eating habits
Using EMDR Therapy and other therapy techniques, we re-establish the body as a safe place to be and a resource. We work to process the trauma in a contained, realistic way that does not overwhelm the client. We then put the traumatic events into context, i.e., “this happened in my past, but it does not define who I am.” Resolving trauma is the equivalent of mentally separating it out from the present, labeling it and filing it away in a filing cabinet.