How Trauma Healing Works

There are many reasons people experience emotional or psychological trauma in their lives; accidents, abuse, the sudden or unexplained death of a loved one or even unresolved childhood wounds are just a few. Sometimes, symptoms from the trauma can present in later life causing the person to experience anxiety, depression, or a deep sense of disconnect. Treating the whole body in a holistic, non-invasive way has proven highly beneficial for trauma resolution.

The word trauma comes from a Greek word meaning wound, in the physical sense. However, today the term trauma has come to represent both a physical and an emotional disorder. Traumatic events are those that involve threats to life or bodily integrity, or a close personal encounter with violence or death. From these experiences, people can become traumatized because their ability to cope or respond to the perceived threat, which is/was outside of their control, has a lasting effect on their psyche.  Traumatic events confront people with the extremes of helplessness, terror, or a loss of control. After the event people can also be left feeling guilt or shame about how they personally reacted to the event.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (2000) commonly identified traumatic events can include sexual or physical assault, terrorism, domestic abuse, accidents, neglect, serious illness, and man-made or natural disasters. These events can be one-time incidents or long-term ones and some events may even be overlooked. Overlooked events can include the sudden death of a loved one or child or the breakdown of a significant relationship.   

Sometimes people who experience trauma or traumatic events find themselves regularly overwhelmed by feelings and thoughts surrounding the event itself. This is because their internal bodily regulation system is out of balance leaving them feeling vulnerable or even emotionally out of control.

Trauma therapy is unique in that it aims to re-establish this sense of control helping the person feel more in control and safe. Working with the body is a great way to regain confidence and encourages awareness of self because it gives access to so-called implicit memory; a memory that is held in the body unconsciously. Talking therapy alone cannot reach these memories because they cannot be consciously articulated by the person suffering from the trauma.  When we experience a traumatic event, our evolutionary response is to fight, flee or freeze. If we are not able to act on these survival mechanisms during a traumatic situation, our body holds this memory internally.  Research has revealed, these memories can have the ability to re-wire how we physically and psychologically respond to trauma or stress in the future. For example, a frightening car accident may leave the victim feeling intense anxiety every time they venture out in a car.  Their response is simply reliving the past trauma all over again and without therapeutic intervention, prevents them from integrating their experience.

By applying a holistic whole-body approach to healing trauma, one can learn to safely and non-judgementally observe one’s internal experience and learn how to makes sense of it. This consequently changes the perception of the traumatic experience and essentially re-programs the response system to it altogether. Healing occurs when we are present in our bodies.