How I work with trauma
I have worked with survivors of trauma and abuse for many years. In that time my experience has deepened through further training and knowledge to understand the impact trauma can have on an individual. This has included understanding the neuroscience of trauma and what happens to the body; how to reduce and manage trauma symptoms; and working with trauma memories.
Trauma can cause a range of distressing sensations, experiences and thoughts even years after the actual traumatic incident or abuse occurred. This is because the brain needs to respond differently to the perceived threat in order to preserve life. The flight, fight, freeze (submit or attach) response is triggered. When this occurs memories are not processed in the usual way, which is why, years later, people can still feel that they are experiencing the trauma as if it has just happened. This is a completely normal response to an abnormal experience. However, this does not mean the impact of trauma is any less devastating or debilitating.
Should you come to counselling with something of this nature we will work together to understand the impact trauma has had on you and your life. I will invite you to consider this from different perspectives including how the trauma might have manifested in a physical way. What I will not ask you to do is to re-live what has happened to you – instead we will work at a pace that feels comfortable and stays in your window of tolerance.
I work with the three phases of trauma recovery. To begin with we will focus on safety and stabilisation to help you feel more grounded and in control of everyday life. There follows the second phase where the trauma can be fully processed. This does not mean that you need to go back to the trauma and talk about it in detail, rather we will work with here and now responses to it to help the body come to terms with traumatic memory. The final phase attends to integration and meaning-making. Bringing forth what has been gained and consolidating it in order to move beyond the trauma.
How we move through these phases is up to you. You may not want to go beyond phase one or we may focus on this phase for many sessions. That is fine. My ultimate concern is about you and your safety as we work.
I completed training with renowned trauma therapist and author, Babette Rothschild. She says ‘the first goal of trauma recovery should and must be to improve your quality of life on a daily basis’ (2010). And that is where we will start.