WHAT IS TRAUMA?

Trauma is one of the most misunderstood elements of human suffering. From time to time people will use the word trauma as a replacement term for a stressful day to describe stressful activities they went through. It does not mean that stressful events at work cannot be traumatic. It all depends on the person and his or her lifelong developmental experiences. Some people are more resilient towards traumatic experiences than others. It all depends on life-experiences from childhood to present.

Typical events that may cause trauma are: war, accidents, high-jacking, attacks, loosing a partner, medical procedures, falling from a bicycle, loosing a limb, childhood abuse or neglect, divorce and other separations, witnessing violence, rape, illnesses, political rage, road rage, etc.

Trauma (PTSD) refers to an experience that intrudes one’s normal living and is life-threatening - a perceived near death experience. It activates the fight-flight-freeze response for survival. Once an individual perceives being defenceless against a threatening event it is likely that the response may become frozen in his/her body. As a matter of fact, such an event may become so overwhelming that the individual freezes and not being able to fight or to run away from the perceived threat. Such a threatening experience may then have devastating effects on psychological wellbeing, cognitive functioning, spiritual, emotional and social life. In short - the person’s ability to self regulation becomes limited.

The following are typical first symptoms of trauma: (1)Anxiousness - increase in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing changes and other bodily sensations; (2) Constricted - fear to move around, asthmatic responses, digestive problems, limited cognitive functioning (attention deficits), alteration of perception, etc; (3) Disconnection - the event might be so stressful that denial kicks in as if nothing has happened, or a person may develop dissociative personalities; (4) Despair and despondency; (5) In some cases re-enactment where a person may seek out dangerous situations and or events similar to the traumatic event.

Trauma dysregulates and alters the following: self-perception, emotion, attention and consciousness, perception of the perpetrator (e.g. the Stockholm Syndrome in Germany and Patty Hearst case in the USA), relationships with other, sense of meaning and significance, and health (psycho-somatic complexities).

In the provisioning of psychotherapy, consideration is given to different modalities - taking into consideration the strengths that the client brings to the consultation room. Somatic Experiencing® principles are explored and may be utilised in context with other modalities.

SE® provides a model of understanding and healing traumatic experiences as developed by Peter A Levine. The focus of SE® is on how the body unshackles trauma and restores general wellbeing.