By Anna Kuyumcuoglu | mental health
Posted: April 26, 2024

Trauma is a highly personal experience that deeply impacts an individual’s well-being. What one person finds traumatic, another may not, as our reactions depend on our unique circumstances and past experiences. A key factor that can turn a threatening situation into a traumatic event is a sense of helplessness. When we feel unable to control or escape a dangerous circumstance, it increases the likelihood of that experience becoming psychologically scarring. Conversely, if we maintain some level of autonomy and the ability to distance ourselves from harm, the traumatic impact may be lessened.

Our prior life experiences also play a significant role in how we process potentially traumatic events. Those who have endured multiple traumas tend to be more vulnerable, as each new incident can retriggered unresolved pain and suffering. Conversely, individuals with fewer exposures to helplessness and danger may possess greater resilience to cope with threatening situations in a healthier manner.

Trauma, whether physical or emotional, initiates a cascade of physiological and psychological reactions. Bracing, apprehension, fear, pain, and avoidance are common responses that manifest both emotionally and physically. A traumatic experience like a car accident can leave one apprehensive about driving again while also exhibiting physical tension, reduced mobility, or guarded movements. Even after physical injuries have healed, residual pain or limited range of motion can persist due to unconscious bracing and unresolved psychological impacts in the mind and body’s memory of the trauma.

Here are some potential interventions that could be used at Wall Street Therapy to help clients dealing with trauma:

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) CPT is an evidence-based treatment that helps clients modify unhelpful beliefs related to their traumatic experience. Through CPT, therapists guide clients in becoming aware of and challenging stuck patterns of distressing thoughts. This allows them to create a new understanding of the trauma that is more balanced.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) EMDR is another widely utilized trauma therapy. It combines cognitive behavioral approaches with bilateral stimulation of the brain through eye movements, taps or tones. This helps the brain reprocess distressing memories and beliefs more adaptively.

Somatic & Body-Based Therapies Trauma impacts the entire mind-body system. Somatic therapies focus on helping clients befriend their bodies and regain a sense of safety through tracking bodily sensations. 

Mindfulness & Grounding Techniques Learning mindfulness skills helps clients stay grounded during times of being triggered or dysregulated. Breathing practices, guided imagery and other mind-body practices increase present awareness and distress tolerance.

Psychoeducation: Providing education on the physiological and psychological effects of trauma helps normalize the human experience. Clients learn to understand their symptoms as the biological imprint of the traumatic event(s).

Exposure Therapy:  Carefully guided exposure to trauma reminders and memories in a safe therapeutic environment can help clients process unresolved pain and reduce avoidance. 

At Wall Street Therapy, an individualized, client-centered approach integrating the most effective treatment components is recommended for safely and successfully resolving trauma. See our Services tab for a variety of interventions we use to work through trauma. 

Click on the image for an article on people pleasing and how its related to trauma

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