We each hold a template of health and healing within us; a dynamic power when we choose to honor our body's wisdom.
The real voyage of discover consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
What is trauma?
Psychological trauma occurs when we experience a stressful event that overwhelms our emotions, overwhelms our coping abilities, and we remain feeling helpless. The experience of overwhelm is different for each person. So whereas the traumatic event may be out of the realm of normal experiences such as an accident, assault, disaster, chronic illness or surgery, each person will experience it differently. This can be very confusing. What might be considered a normal event such as a break-up can trigger a profound abandonment experience in an individual. The outside event may seem like something everyone goes through, but the internal experience results in anxiety.
Trauma and How it Affects the Body
To live through trauma is to live through a profound experience. We are deeply changed and can spend years sorting through what transpired. What makes trauma so eventful is that our mental and emotional systems are overwhelmed and the intelligence of the sympathetic nervous system takes over. The resulting flood of information and energy moves rapidly through the body and brain.
Initially the body responds to threat or danger with a rush of adrenalin and cortisol. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, sugars are released for quick energy, digestion and sexual functioning are slowed down and the immune system is altered.
Perceptions also change and a person may not notice injury, pain, or fatigue. The energy of fear and anger are mobilized as the individual engages the flight or fight response. Fighting and running are valuable reactions that keep us safe in times of danger. In many cases healing takes place after a critical event and a person does not remain traumatized. Other times trauma will live on long after the event has ended.
When someone experiences unresolved trauma there are several characteristics.These include hyper arousal, intrusion, and freezing. Easy to startle, irritability, and sleep difficulties are hallmarks of trauma. Intrusion is the repeated remembering of flashbacks of the traumatic events. The freeze response occurs when a deep state of suspended external action happens while the internal system is still on "high alert." Sometimes people describe this as like "being a deer stuck in the headlights." The perception of time slows down and the resource to move and make decisions is gone. When an individual engages the freeze response they can remain in this type of shock and have difficult moving forward in life. Unresolved trauma affects relationships to the self and others distorting the bonds to life and family.1
Fortunately over the last 15 years a dramatic increase in the understanding and healing of trauma has taken place. Successful methods of healing trauma include integrating the body and mind. Conscious awareness of the heartbeat, breathing, sensations, images, and temperature inform the mind and body it is time to slow down. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) also prove to be profound healing techniques.
How do you deal with the body in holistic psychotherapy?
When the client focuses by using awareness of sensation this is a key to holistic psychotherapy and body-mind psychotherapy. It is both simple and complex. When a trained therapist guides a client through the process new perspective pop up from the subconcious and trauma is released. The body is finally able to relax and the individual recognizes how to create relaxation when it is needed.
The process of healing includes reestablishing a sense of well being as the nervous system settles down. Then the traumatizing event is understood in an integrated context. A person recovering from traumatic events will also recover a new sense of compassion, empathy, and respect for the difficulty of living through a trauma. Finally, if a person felt their spiritual connection was broken they will regain this connection. Mind, body, emotions, heart and Spirit are all addressed in the journey of healing trauma.
1. Herman, Judith, Trauma and Recover: The Aftermath of Violence--from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror; copyright 1997, Basic Books.
Seeing the bigger picture involves putting everything into its larger framework, where its true meaning can be understood.
Karen Mills Bevers Holistic Mind Body Trauma Healing Using EMDR and EFT