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  • Writer's pictureKelli Niewhoner

Trauma: A Journey towards Recovery

Trauma is an intricate tapestry woven into the human experience, affecting individuals in diverse and profound ways. Defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing event, trauma can stem from various sources, such as accidents, abuse, loss, or even natural disasters. Trauma can only be defined by the individual who has experienced it. I am unable to make a checklist of what is considered traumatic because each individual has their own life experience and perceptions. What may be traumatic to me may not have any impact on the next person, but for me it can leave lasting impacts. Trauma leaves an impressionable mark on the psyche, influencing emotions, behaviors, and relationships. In this blog post, we'll explore the intricacies of trauma and explore the transformative role therapy plays in the healing journey. Defining Trauma: Trauma manifests differently for each person, creating a unique landscape of emotional scars and vulnerabilities. While some may associate trauma with major life-threatening events, it's crucial to recognize that trauma can also result from seemingly less severe experiences. The subjective nature of trauma emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and validating individual narratives. What does this look like in every day life? Example: You and your sibling were in a car accident. You have no major impacts from the accident other than it made you late for your family dinner, but your sibling isn't fairing as well and is severely impacted. Your sibling is having flashbacks and moments of reliving the accident in their sleep. They have trouble getting back in a vehicle and avoid leaving the house if it involves getting in a car. They have recently stated that they feel anxious and their heart feels as though it is going to pop out of their chest. Explaination: Trauma is subjective. You viewed the car accident as more of an inconvenience compared to your sibling who viewed it as a life altering scenario. Each person views their life through a different lens; it is unfair to to say that everyone will react the same way to the same situation. Your sibling is experiencing symptoms associated with trauma. This leads us to the next question-- are there different types of trauma? Types of Trauma: Trauma can be classified into various categories, including acute trauma resulting from a single incident and chronic trauma arising from prolonged exposure to distressing situations. Complex trauma often involves multiple traumatic events, typically occurring during developmental stages, further complicating the healing process. Acute Trauma: A prime example of acute trauma would be the one listed above with the car accident. It was a singular incident that created an impact on a person's everyday life. The specification for acute trauma is that the symptoms last for anywhere between three days, following the event, up to one month post trauma. Chronic Trauma: Chronic trauma is slightly different. It is when a person experiences repeated exposure to the stimulus or the cause of the trauma. An example of this would be a soldier who is experiencing repeated traumatic experiences while in combat. Complex Trauma: Complex trauma is exactly what it sounds like, much more complicated and compounded. It is both acute and chronic trauma all in one. It often occurs in childhood, but can be experienced at all ages and stages of life. This type of trauma is disruptive in many aspects of development, can demminish a person's sense of self, and can create emotional turmoil. An example of complex trauma would be sexual abuse, abandonment, or domestic abuse. The Impact of Trauma: The repercussions of trauma extend beyond the initial incident, infiltrating various aspects of one's life. Emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and even physical symptoms are common manifestations. Trauma can impair one's ability to trust, establish healthy relationships, and navigate daily challenges. Understanding the Neurobiology of Trauma: Neurobiological research has shed light on the profound impact of trauma on the brain. The amygdala, responsible for processing emotions, can become hyperactive, triggering heightened stress responses. Therapy, particularly trauma-focused approaches, aims to rewire these neural pathways, fostering healing and resilience. The Therapeutic Approach: Therapy stands as a beacon of hope for those grappling with the aftermath of trauma. Various modalities, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), have proven effective in addressing trauma and its associated symptoms. Alot of the modalities may not make any sense to you by reading this post, but generally speaking, these approaches were invented to help you reprocess, understand, rewrite your story so that the trauma you've been experiencing no longer has a grip on your life. Creating a Safe Space: One of the fundamental aspects of trauma-informed therapy is creating a safe and supportive environment. Trust and rapport between the client and therapist are paramount, providing a foundation for exploration, expression, and healing. Therapists employ a range of techniques to empower individuals to regain control over their narratives. Creating a safe place for you to explore your thoughts and feelings is one of our therapist's main goals. You are in the driver's seat and our therapists are the guide helping you find direction in your life's journey. Processing and Integration: Therapy facilitates the process of acknowledging, processing, and integrating traumatic experiences. Through guided exploration, individuals can make sense of their emotions, challenge maladaptive thought patterns, and develop coping mechanisms. Group therapy and support networks further reinforce a sense of community and understanding. Individual therapy as well as group therapy can be profoundly important in helping to challenge negative thoughts and behaviors. It is also a great way for people to understand that they aren't alone in their thoughts and emotions. Being reminded that you aren't alone is a powerful tool to integrate new thought patterns, behaviors, and coping skills. The Long Road to Recovery: Recovery from trauma is a gradual and nonlinear journey. Therapy equips individuals with the tools to navigate setbacks, manage triggers, and cultivate resilience. The ultimate goal is not to erase the past but to empower individuals to reclaim their lives, fostering a sense of agency and self-compassion. Healing doesn't always happen in a straight line; sometimes it can feel like you are taking a step backward, that you not making progress, or that things will never get better. These are normal thoughts to have during the healing process, but the important thing is to recognize these thoughts and not suppress them. Working through these thoughts can be challenging, but get you closer to finding healing. Conclusion: Trauma is a complex and pervasive force, but it does not have to define one's narrative indefinitely. Therapy emerges as a powerful ally in the journey toward healing, offering support, understanding, and tools for empowerment. By acknowledging the impact of trauma and embracing the therapeutic process, individuals can embark on a path of resilience, reclaiming their lives and rewriting their stories. A simple reminder that you are not alone, you deserve all good things, and we are here to help you believe these statements to be true for yourself.

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