Trauma Counselling

Trauma counselling image

Could it be trauma?

Trauma can be a deeply distressing and painful experience that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope. It can be caused by a variety of events, such as natural disasters, accidents, violence, abuse, or the sudden loss of a loved one. Trauma can leave a lasting impact on a person’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being, often leading to feelings of helplessness, fear, anxiety, and depression.

Trauma can manifest in different ways, depending on the individual and the circumstances of the event. Some people may experience flashbacks, nightmares, or intense feelings of guilt or shame. Others may become emotionally numb or avoidant, withdrawing from social interactions and activities they once enjoyed. For others they may experience intolerance or behavioural changes, changes in relationships, lack of motivation or enjoyment. Not all traumatic events are big events like war or catastrophic natural disasters, events such as betrayal of a partner, domestic violence, death of a loved one, car accidents, losing a job can all be traumatic depending on the level of threat to life and safety of the individual.

Definitions of trauma

The following are definitions of trauma by world leading trauma researchers and therapists. This definition of trauma that I sometimes use comes from Dr Peter Levine, who founded Somatic Experiencing. Dr Levine says “trauma is
anything that’s too much, too fast, too soon.
Trauma is anything you got that you didn’t need or anything that you didn’t get that you did need.”

Bessel van der Kolk, MD notes, trauma is specifically an event that overwhelms the central nervous system, altering the way we process and recall memories. “Trauma is not the story of something that happened back then,” he adds. “It’s the current imprint of that pain, horror, and fear living inside people.”

According to Stephen Porges, PhD, not only does the body remember a traumatic experience, but it can actually get stuck in the trauma response mode. Trauma often haunts the body the same way it haunts memories? Stephen Porges developed a sound therapy protocol to regulate/reset the nervous system. This is known as Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP). SSP has many years of scientific research to back it and it has supported many clients with extreme trauma, anxiety, Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD, irritable bowel and gut issues, and pain including fibromyalgia. Read more about SSP here.

Any event that and we do not completely cognitively logically process and heal continues to be triggered within the central nervous system. Our nervous system is the system made of nerve cells called neurons. Neurons are specialized to carry “messages” through an electrochemical process. They carry energy to cells. We know some of the messages nerves carry through the body such as messages to move or when something is hot. We do not know the full capabilities of the body, brain, or nervous system.

Author of the book “The science of stuck” Britt Frank defined and discussed what trauma is at the Trauma Super Conference 2023. She stated that “Trauma is an internal process. It’s a brain indigestion process. A trauma response is when our brain either throws up or goes into freeze. So you can eat bad food and not necessarily get sick. Same thing with trauma. You can experience a traumatic event and not necessarily have a trauma response. But the things that we call panic, anxiety, things like that, are often trauma responses, which is the symptom or the behavior or the manifestation of the trauma that we experienced or witnessed. And it’s so important to know that you don’t get a say. And I’ve seen people say, well, that wasn’t a traumatic event. I’m like, okay, that might not have been traumatic. Being bullied, for example, is a normal part of childhood. That doesn’t mean that for some people, given their family and their genetics and their attachment, that being bullied is not going to have long term traumatic consequences. So our unconscious, automatic nervous systems get to decide what counts as trauma, and we don’t. And the thing about trauma is you can be traumatized by a traumatic event, but you can also be traumatized by seemingly normal events. Having a baby, getting married, moving to a new city, starting a new job. These aren’t inherently bad things, but anything, like food, any food can cause indigestion, any event can create a trauma response. Sure. And again, the fact that trauma is part of life doesn’t mean that we all have it in equal doses.
It does not mean that everybody needs therapy or that everyone needs medication. So we don’t want people to push back on me like, well, if you’re saying everyone has trauma, then that doesn’t mean anything. It absolutely means something. We all get injured. We all have immune systems that get sick. We need to normalize and understand what it is.”

Dr Bruce Lipton at the 2023 Trauma Super Conference said “Trauma is a threat to your survival. So the biological imperative, when you get traumatized, the biological imperative kicks right in and says, okay, recognize what’s going on here because you don’t want to do this again. That’s what the imperative says. What were the things that were there that precipitated that threat? Because now, in a structure in the brain called the amygdala, it’s got a scanning system. It’s going to look around and say, if
anything out there that was relevant to that threat shows up, I’m going to be informed, because now I’m going to learn from that experience.
So if it all shows up again, I’m ready to deal with it. Okay?”

The issue with this is that the constant scanning for threat causes many issues for us such as anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, perceiving safe situations as threats, over reactions to situations, addictions, etc. These are the symptoms that we recognize as the result of trauma.

Trauma Recovery

At Holistic Wellness Australia our trauma therapist focuses on holistic approaches to treating trauma and trauma symptoms. A holistic approach for psychological trauma treatment includes evidence based practices stemming from the latest research in neuroscience, somatic psychology and embodiment and the restoration of the self. Peter Levine explains that “trauma is a loss of connection to ourselves, our bodies, to our families, to others, to the world around us.” (Levine, 2008).

Recovering from trauma can be a complex and challenging process that requires time, patience, and support. Seeking professional help, such as therapy or counseling, can be an important step in healing from trauma and learning to manage the associated symptoms. With the right tools and resources, it is possible to regain a sense of safety, control, and hope after experiencing trauma.

If this makes sense and you would like to speak with a trained trauma informed therapist about how trauma has manifested in your life and find ways to process and heal trauma then I encourage you to reach out and book an appointment to see me. There is some brief information about me below or you can find more information on my qualifications here.

Natalee Cooper Counsellor

Natalee

Our counsellor Natalee is a level 2 registered counsellor with the Australian Counselling Association and has completed additional specialised training to gain level 2 certified clinical trauma professional certification. Natalee also has a lived experience of complex trauma and mental health herself. Seeing a counsellor with lived experience can benefit clients because the counsellor can share the understanding of what mental health and trauma can be like, there is a reduction in stigma and discrimination, and it can improve the quality, relevance and knowledge translation of trauma and mental health research. A counsellor with lived experience has often a deep knowledge of their own trauma and can provide clients with the pathways to explore and make sense of their experiences without fear of judgement.