Trauma

Trauma, especially childhood trauma (but also event trauma), is something I am always on the lookout for. Old traumas frequently stay with us in ways that hamper our ability to move out into the world. A trauma happens when we feel overwhelmed by some single or chronic experience – the key word here is overwhelmed. With the same event, some people will be overwhelmed, others will not. So more important that what happened, is how you responded and felt to what happened.

The most important thing with trauma work is to go at a pace where the person has enough charge to feel the old trauma, but not so much charge that the person is re-traumatized. Keeping that principle in mind, I help clients let the energy of that trauma work its way through and reach a point where the trauma event is no longer life threatening but just becomes a narrative with little or no reaction. It is really quite an amazing but predictable process. It is possible for old traumatic fears and reactivity to literally disappear. My primary modality for trauma resolution is Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing and Pat Ogden’s Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. They are both very similar, and contain the principle of somatically titrating the trauma.

With old childhood traumas, we have to take it slower, because going hand in hand with the trauma, is the old relationship wound (see Attachment in menu). In these cases, a solid and safe relationship needs to be established before we enter areas in the client’s life, which have that life or death charge to them. However, it is possible to work through these childhood traumas once the younger ego state feels safe with me -- the changes can really be quite amazing – brings a smile to my face just to think about it. So a lot of the work at first is attachment/relationship work and an uncoupling of me from the initial threat figure. Generally, to a young ego state, all adults (or all men, etc.) get grouped together (over-identified or over-coupled) as dangerous. Part of the healing process is to tease those over-couplings apart.

One last comment: chronic childhood trauma will show up with many different symptoms. It is not unusual for people to have other diagnoses (labels) with the root cause of chronic childhood trauma being undiagnosed. As you can imagine, these clients get better faster when treatment for the root cause is started, rather than just treating the symptoms. Because of this, I see many clients who have had 10+ previous therapists and diagnoses, and little progress, yet we are able to make good progress. This lets me know our work is on target.