All You Need to Know about Traumatic Stress and PTSD
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to go back over some of the key topics I’ve blogged about and to give a complete list of my blogs for each topic.
This week: All you need to know about Traumatic Stress and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Just click on the links to access the blog articles.
It is only over the past 20 or so years that we have found ways to work with trauma in therapy, yet for thousands years people worked away on their own, using all their internal resources, their spiritual beliefs and the support of their family and community in what could be called a “natural” process. The following blogs examine the work of some key figures in the trauma recovery field and powerful recovery strategies.
This blog, Trauma and the Body looks at the work of Peter Levine who describes the ways in which animals in the wild handle life-threatening situations can give us powerful clues as to how to heal our own trauma symptoms. When humans experience trauma, whether as a result of long term abuse in childhood, in a war zone or simply as a result of a vehicle accident, they often do hang onto it – and it is stored in the body. He says that in order to heal trauma we need to learn to trust the messages our bodies are giving us and see them as internal wake up calls. What he calls “Somatic Experiencing” employs the awareness of body sensation to help people ”renegotiate” and heal their traumas rather than relive them. With appropriate guidance into the body’s instinctive ”felt sense,” individuals are able to access their own built-in immunity to trauma, allowing the highly aroused survival energies to be safely and gradually discharged. When these energies are discharged, people frequently experience a dramatic reduction in or disappearance of their traumatic symptoms.
Trauma and Resilience looks at the concept of resilience and how we can protect ourselves from the effects of trauma. Why is it that some people seem to have the ability to remain calm in the face of disaster, while others fall apart? This ability, known as resilience, mental toughness or good old-fashioned “grit”, doesn’t eliminate stress or magically erase life’s difficulties but it does give people the strength to tackle problems head on and move on with their lives. Research carried out after Hurricane Katrina and the events of 9/11 has shown that even after unimaginable loss and horror, people are still able to find the strength to not just survive, but to prosper.
Trauma and Complex PTSD – this blog looks at the recovery process from serious trauma which perhaps goes back to childhood abuse or neglect or from domestic violence. (It can also occur after experiencing the trauma of a war situation.) It also describes the symptoms of what has been called “complex PTSD” first described by Judith Herman.
Babette Rothschild is major player in the world of trauma recovery and these two articles Trauma Recovery 1 and Trauma Recovery 2 summarise the main points from her excellent book, “8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery”. It is written for both therapists and people recovering from trauma and PTSD. (The 8 keys in the book’s title are mindfulness, starting at the end with the knowledge that you made it, knowing that remembering is not required, stopping flashbacks, reconciling forgiveness and shame, taking small steps, keeping physically active and finally what she calls “making lemonade” which is stepping back, seeing the bigger picture and seeing what good might have emerged from the whole process).
A series of three blogs look at the emotion of “shame”, so often one the after effects of trauma. Toxic shame can overpower a person’s whole personality. We don’t simply feel that “I made a mistake” but rather “I AM a mistake.” The first blog examines why we feel shame and shows how it is an emotion that parents can pass onto their children, and can be passed down many generations. The very power of shame lies in its secretiveness, its darkness. It creates the feeling of a need to cover up. The second and third blogs look at some powerful recovery techniques and strategies suggested by John Bradshaw and Alice Miller.
Need some advice and support?
If you have experienced a traumatic event, are suffering from traumatic stress or PTSD, and would like to talk it over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!