Trauma Therapy and Support

What is Trauma? 

Everyone has experienced something, or many things, in their life that they label “traumatic”. Frankly, a trauma can be any event or situation that one experiences as overwhelming. People are impacted in different ways by different things, and one’s experience and reaction to any particular situation is personal and unique. If an incident is experienced and labeled by one’s body system as traumatic, then regardless of label or judgement from others, it IS a trauma for that person and is stored in the body as such. The human body is a magnificently created organism that is always striving for optimal health and safety. In the face of trauma, the body therefore reacts in the best way it can in the moment to keep itself safe and protected. While these reactions typically serve for that incident of trauma, they can become the new default way of being and reacting in the world, and be inappropriate responses under normal circumstances.

PTSD

Some people have experienced or witnessed incidents where they have been fearful for their life or the life of someone else; from this experience, their body reacts in ways that make normal functioning difficult. The result can be a condition known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or more commonly referred to as PTSD. Behavior and reactions from PTSD may include flashbacks, intrusive memories, intense psychological distress, avoidance behaviors, and others. One’s sense of safety can feel constantly threatened and depression and anxiety may result. One’s world may seem completely altered. PTSD rarely goes away on its own and is challenging to work through with talk therapy alone; but resolution and relief can be found through psychotherapy that involves somatic methods.

Complex Trauma

Trauma Therapy Santa RosaComplex trauma is another type of trauma that responds well to somatic therapy. It arises from repeated traumas that are typically endured through childhood, and are inflicted by someone with whom the trauma victim has a close and dependent relationship- mother, father, caregiver, etc. The unique nature of this type of trauma is that it is relational- meaning that it happens between people with a close interpersonal relationship- and that it is longitudinal- meaning that it is repeated and takes place over a period of time. When a child is exposed to situations that are violent, chaotic or neglectful, their bodies interpret outside stimuli as dangerous, and they subsequently function in the world according to this interpretation. As was their environment, their experience of being in their own bodies becomes chaotic, unpredictable. and unsafe.  Complex trauma can be pervasive in one’s life, but treatments using somatic therapies can help facilitate someone with complex trauma to finding a life of peace and normalcy. (For more information about complex trauma, click here: Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study)

How Does Trauma Take Hold?

Trauma lives in the body; it is experienced at a particular time, or during an ongoing period of time or repetitive times. It is experienced, taken in, and held in the body in a particular way, unique to the individual experiencing the traumatic event or series of events. Typically when trauma occurs, the cognitive region of the brain which is the more recently developed area of the human brain is overridden by the more primitive part – the fight or flight area. This area was and still is responsible for survival, and gets us to move, or freeze, or in some way act in order to save our life.  In order to ‘get over’ the trauma, it needs to be worked with in a way that allows for the entire body system to excavate and dissipate and expel the trauma residues that inhabit the body system. Simply talking through the experience isn’t effective because talking engages only the conscious, cognitive brain which was ‘offline’ (overridden by the survival center) at the time of the trauma. There are a number of effective ways that engage the entire body system in order to work through the trauma; these methods are adjunctive to talk therapy. Among them are EMDR,
Trauma Centered Trauma Sensitive Yoga
, Gestalt therapy techniques, and others. 

Relief is Available

Living a life influenced by the impacts of trauma can be devastating for both the trauma sufferer and their loved ones. Everyone needs and deserves support in working through the residual impact of their traumatic experiences, no matter how mild or severe the trauma may seem. This working through process varies in nature and duration depending on the individual and the type and frequency of trauma they have endured. I am experienced and comfortable working in the context of trauma, and I am available to support you through this process, working with you at your own pace and in ways that correspond directly to your individual needs. We begin by establishing a safe working relationship, and collaborate in the process as we move forward together.

For more information or to schedule a session, please contact me here: Susan Lourme