The realm of healing is currently undergoing a very exciting revolution. There is a new understanding of how trauma operates in the body, emotions, mind and nervous system, which has redefined the way we understand and treat psychological and mental health issues.
Due to advances in neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology and the inclusion of a more scientific and holistic approach to healing, issues such as depression, addictions, anxiety, and self harming, as well as vague and undefined body pain have now been inexorably connected to early childhood, and other forms of trauma. There is now recognition that emotional, mood, and physical disorders are often the outcome of earlier traumas. The need to take clients beyond talking cognitive approaches in order to heal the parts of them that are frozen in the past is now being substantiated with convincing research.
This new paradigm of healing supersedes traditional approaches to assisting the client to reconnect with their inner wholeness, aliveness and spirit. It achieves this by recognising that as our minds desperately try to leave the trauma behind, our bodies and biology are keeping us trapped in the past.
Trauma is probably the most ignored, denied, misunderstood and untreated cause of human suffering. Until we understand just how endemic, rather than unusual, trauma is in our society, and how much it influences people at all levels in the decisions and choices we make, we will inevitably recreate and repeat these unconscious trauma situations - privately and publicly, locally and globally.
Trauma is probably the most ignored, denied, misunderstood and untreated cause of human suffering.
Recently, the understanding of the transgenerational nature of trauma (trauma passed down through bonding) makes it an even bigger challenge in that, if ignored, it is passed down regardless. This includes family secrets, hidden losses and transgressions that are imperceptibly passed down through generations, impacting and leaving emotional and energetic traces in our bodies and nervous systems. Sadly, these inner disconnections cause disruptions and disconnections in intimacy and social relationships, with disastrous effects on marriages, families and friendships, sometimes even the ability to be social at all.
As human beings we are an extremely resilient species; we have rebounded from endless wars, countless disasters, and betrayal and violence in our own lives and reality. However, as resilient as we are, we now have an opportunity to better understand and take responsibility for the awakening of our consciousness and to realise how much we need this for social and personal healing, and a deeper understanding of our intrinsic humanness.
What is trauma?
Trauma happens to all of us; our friends, our families, and in the case of war, whole societies can be impacted. No one is exempt from experiencing some trauma; what varies is the degree. Some examples are sexual abuse, growing up in a family where there was alcoholism, violence, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, attachment bonding disorders, generational trauma, external events, medical procedures, and so on.
Trauma can be defined as any event from any time that creates utter helplessness, often combined with abandonment by potentially protective caregivers.
Physiologically, it has characteristic hyper-arousal (an over activated nervous system) symptoms and can be likened to tortured animals that are unable to take any action to find a way out. This eventually causes them to cease "trying to find a way out"; the flight or fight response collapses.
The best predictor of something becoming traumatic for humans seems to be a situation in which you can no longer imagine a way out...
The best predictor of something becoming traumatic for humans seems to be a situation in which you can no longer imagine a way out, when fighting and fleeing is no longer an option and you feel overpowered and helpless. This happens in childhood when you literally are powerless and vulnerable, and also as an adult in accidents and overwhelming experiences.
The emotions of disgust, fear, anger and shame that occur naturally in traumatic situations have a survival function to communicate to others to back away or protect me! In trauma this is not achieved. The predator does not back off, there is no protection, and the victim fails to achieve any action that could help them, rendering them helpless.
Most people with traumatised parts learn to disassociate and split off or compartmentalise. They appear competent and focused most of the time, but can collapse into primitive and uncontrollable states of emotion and immobilisation when confronted with situations and sensations that remind them of something in the past that has been shut down. This can also manifest as physical symptoms, flashbacks, body memories, nightmares, or a childish irrational emotional response to something that has been a "trigger".
Our minds and bodies have a natural innate movement towards integration and healing.
We can now apply a neurobiological framework that embraces the non-linguistic and neural processing of the individual. This is a very specific form of bodywork to readapt the flight/fight response to its natural orientation. Using the bodywork approach allows the vital place for emotional and energetic release and recalibration of the body in the healing process. Wholeness and life force can re awaken and healthy emotions flow.
Another very successful approach to healing trauma is the use of constellation workshops whereby unconscious hidden traumas, including generational trauma, can be revealed and bought to the conscious mind. This process allows control, integration, and release of these hidden dynamics that may be causing emotional and psychological issues in the individual.
Facing unresolved trauma requires courage and determination. I believe it is love at the heart of things and our desire for the truth and wholeness which allows us to be fulfilled, social, dignified and loving beings with the will to carry on.
As much as we may be the victim of trauma, we can also be the hero or heroine of our lives, creating resilience and power, self love and health by being our own knight in shining armour fighting for the lost and imprisoned parts of our true selves.
Casey Terry (BAPsych) specialises in trauma work and has integrated many modalities and 20 years' experience to create her innovative practice in Perth. www.totallyalive.com.au
Casey Terry (BAPsych) specialises in trauma work and has integrated many modalities and 20 years' experience to create her innovative practice in Perth Western Australia www.totallyalive.com.au E: firstname.lastname@example.org