Healing from trauma, which can stem from a singular experience or repeated experiences, can be a complex and difficult journey, with a lot of twists and turns. The journey can impact an individual at a profound level and therefore impact relationships around them. The key to healing is to find a way that works for you!
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be effective in treating trauma in several ways:
- Psycho-education: Helps individuals understand the effects of trauma on the brain and body, and how trauma-related symptoms are related to the experience of trauma. This is a very important step in learning to understand the trauma and its impact neutrally without the heavy emotional load.
- Relaxation techniques: Teaches individuals techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation to manage anxiety and other symptoms.
- Affective modulation: Helps individuals to identify and regulate their emotions, especially those that are associated with trauma.
- Cognitive restructuring: Helps individuals to identify and challenge negative or inaccurate thoughts related to their trauma.
- Trauma narrative: Assists individuals in telling the story of their trauma in a safe and supportive environment.
- Gradual exposure: Helps individuals to gradually confront the memories, feelings, and situations associated with the trauma in a safe and supportive environment.
- Enhancing safety and trust: Helps individuals to identify and develop a sense of safety, trust, and social support.
- Cognitive processing of the trauma: Helps individuals to process their trauma experience cognitively, aiming to reduce the symptoms associated with trauma.
It’s important to note that TF-CBT is a structured and evidence-based approach but may not be the best fit for everyone. A trained therapist can work with their client to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on their individual needs and experiences.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
If people find it difficult to talk about their traumatic experiences or may feel overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions during therapy sessions, there is another option. In these cases, it may be more helpful to use an approach like EMDR, which focuses on reprocessing traumatic memories on an emotional level without necessarily needing to talk about them in detail. EMDR was specifically designed to treat trauma on an emotional level and can be easier for individuals who don’t want to focus on talking about and through their traumatic experiences.
EMDR uses precise hand movements and other bilateral movements to train the brain’s natural information processing system to move towards healing and health. EMDR has a growing evidence base and in clinical practice it has been repeatedly proven to work. It can help individuals process and move beyond traumatic experiences, ultimately leading to a better quality of life.
Here are some ways EMDR works:
- Assessment: Helps the therapist and client to identify the traumatic events or memories that are causing distress.
- Preparation: Helps the client to develop coping skills and relaxation techniques that can be used during the EMDR process.
- Desensitization: Involves recalling the traumatic memory while also engaging in a bilateral stimulation such as eye movements, hand tapping, or auditory tones. This helps to reduce the intensity of the traumatic memory and associated emotions. This processing part does not require much talking.
- Installation: Helps the client to replace negative or distressing beliefs about themselves that resulted from the traumatic experience with more positive and adaptive beliefs.
- Body Scan: Helps the client to identify and release any physical sensations or tension associated with the traumatic experience.
- Closure: Involves ending the session by stabilizing the client and ensuring they feel safe and grounded.
- Re-evaluation: Evaluates the progress that has been made and determines if additional EMDR sessions are necessary.
Other therapeutic modalities such as ACT, CFT and narrative therapy can also help in moving a person through their trauma but place less emphasis on the processing of the traumatic memories themselves.
Other ways to help health from trauma
- Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and emotions in a journal can help you process and make sense of your experiences.
- Mindfulness: Practices like meditation or deep breathing can help you stay present and grounded in the moment, which can be helpful for managing the symptoms of trauma.
- Creative expression: Engaging in activities like painting, drawing, or playing music can provide a healthy outlet for processing emotions and feelings.
- Support groups: Connecting with others who have experienced similar trauma can provide a sense of community and support outside of therapy.
- Exercise: Engaging in physical activity like running, yoga, or swimming can help reduce stress and improve overall mental health. Trauma is held in the body so finding mind body activities can also help with this.
Mind body connection
The mind-body connection refers to the idea that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours can have a direct impact on our physical health and well-being. This connection is particularly relevant when it comes to trauma, as trauma can manifest in both mental and physical symptoms.
For example, someone who has experienced trauma may struggle with chronic pain, headaches, or other physical symptoms. These physical symptoms can be a result of the body’s natural response to stress and trauma, known as the “fight or flight” response. This response can trigger a release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can have physical effects on the body.
On the other hand, practicing techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help activate the body’s natural relaxation response, which can help reduce physical symptoms of stress and trauma. These techniques can also help to regulate the nervous system, which can become dysregulated in response to trauma.
Overall, the mind-body connection highlights the importance of addressing both the mental and physical aspects of trauma in the healing process. By understanding and addressing the link between the two, we can work towards healing and improving overall health and well-being.
Contact Surrey Psychology
To see if the EMDR in Surrey our psychologists deliver would help you to heal from trauma, get in touch with Clinical Psychologist Dr Gurpreet Kaur today by filling out our online enquiry form.