Trauma therapy is the therapeutic counseling for people with trauma. So it’s not actually a separate form of therapy but a guidance to give the trauma a place. For this purpose, multiple forms of therapy, models and tools are integrated.
First, a brief description of trauma. We talk about single and multiple (complex) trauma.
Both types of trauma are remembered fragments of intense events that actually happened. In the process, the trauma is stored in long-term memory as a loaded fact. As such, it significantly affects our current daily actions, thinking and feeling.
A single trauma is when a violent, drastic event disrupts someone’s life. Think of a bad event such as a car accident, sexual abuse or a terrorist attack.
The accompanying mental problems always have to do with the experience of that intense situation that someone has remembered. Strong associations are often made with our sensory perceptions that – if they occur in our daily lives – can cause the trauma to be re-experienced.
We speak of multiple (complex) trauma when intense drastic events have repeatedly occurred over an extended period of time. Such as, for example, sexual abuse, frequent, neglect, abuse, manipulation, … These experiences erode self-confidence and self-esteem, generate gloom and anxiety, cause distrust, …
Severe traumatic experiences often involve dissociation.
We are talking about the seemingly normal functioning of you as a person. We call this the Apparently Normal Part (ANP). The other part is the emotional (reliving) part. We call this the Emotional Part (EP). In this case, a dissociation often takes place in which the person is in the re-experience and is therefore no longer psychologically present in the here and now. The daily life of people with trauma is an alternation of ANP and EP.
Counseling for trauma goes in stages.
Stabilization phase where in counseling we ensure that the ANP’s strengthen and EP’s such as flashbacks and emotional re-experiencing will occur more controlled and less.
When you feel ready, we begin the actual processing of the trauma (confrontation phase). This is obviously a difficult phase – for many people. It consists of reducing the distance and differences between ANP’s and EP’s and eventually leading to integration.
After this, we work on personality integration and rehabilitation. This is to give the trauma a definitive place in our daily life by integrating the ANP’s with the EP’s (integration phase). The trauma becomes a part of yourself without making you regress. It also means, possibly, that it has done positive things to you that have made you the person you are today.
These phases often occur randomly in trauma counseling. It is never a purely sequential event.
A variety of techniques and models are used in each phase.
The common thread is the conversation. Hypnosis and psychodrama are extremely appropriate to apply. Also consider installing the “safe place,” “storage areas” for the trauma, window-of-tolerance, etc.
Severely traumatic experiences require counseling that often extends over years.
Walsha works with you at your pace.