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Trauma: Stress That Exceeds Your Ability to Cope
Trauma, whether emotional or psychological, is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and vulnerable. Trauma shakes the foundations of our understanding of life, upsets our beliefs about safety, and shatters our assumptions of trust. It is often the result of a stressful event that exceeds the ‘minds’ ability to integrate the emotions involved in that experience.
There are two major groups of trauma:
- An intense, Life-Threatening Event or Events
- “Silent Trauma” where a person or persons are subjected to less dramatic, but re-occurring traumas, like verbal bullying, constant criticism, a high stress work environment, the effects of which have built up throughout life. They are generally unaware that the core reason underlying their current problem is the unresolved stressful events in the past. Examples may be:
- the years of growing up with an dysfunctional or dangerous parent
- feeling excluded, suffering mental abuse, verbal cruelty, or simply not belonging
- bullying in the schoolyard, home or other environment
- a dysfunctional marriage (parents or their own)
- abusive relationships
- the high-stress work environment and ‘burn-out’
When “stress events” occur we often squash down, ignore and try to “suck it up” – until we finally hit a “wall” and suddenly we can’t cope, can’t function, feel totally overwhelmed and perhaps suffer a ‘melt down’!
Traumatic experiences can involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling fearful, overwhelmed, alone or unsafe can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical danger. It’s not the actual facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your perspective and subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more you are likely to be traumatized.
The Process of Trauma
When you experience a stressful or traumatic event the brain goes into survival mode called the “Fight, Flight or Freeze” (FFF) response. In other words, the brain sets the body up to run away, or to fight, or if the event is too much to “comprehend” at that moment, to freeze.
This process causes the blood flow to increase to the large muscle groups and at the same time, it rapidly floods the system with cortisol and adrenaline as our stress levels rise, just momentarily, until we are able to process the situation/event, or until it resolves itself and goes away and life goes on.
This process is designed to enable us to cope with normal ups and downs of life and then when the event is over the brain completes the process by turning the event into a memory allowing us to return to feeling calm.
However, sometimes, the brain does not, or perhaps simply cannot, finish processing the event and doesn’t turn it into a memory which we can file into the past and move on. The result of not processing the event means your remain consciously aware of what happened and so “you re-live this event or events” constantly in your mind, over and over, almost feeling that it’s happening all over again. It’s like a movie looping, or permanently on replay, and the body feels alert, ready for action, all the time.
This looping causes the body and mind to get stuck in a constant state of flight, fright or freeze.
PTSD occurs when your mind and body have not moved past the flight, fright or freeze reaction. Sometimes the event may have happened long before any symptoms of PTSD become apparent. Soldiers, police officers, social workers and other high stress professions are particularly prone to PTSD. Victims of crime, domestic violence and bullying also at high risk of developing it. You might experience stress, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, phobias, anger, fits of rage, addictions, all of which are commonly associated with PTSD.
For the brain to be able to process unresolved traumatic events two things need to happen:
- The body needs to know that “it’s over” and you are “safe”.
- You need to feel you have power over the event or events.
The good news is that current psychological treatments have been revolutionized and need not take long to help a person overcome stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD symptoms or any other condition. The days of “lying on the couch” for years are long gone.
We train in the latest cutting edge therapies, to offer our clients the most successful treatment for their issues. The latest technique we have adopted is The Richards Trauma Process (TRTP) which incorporates hypnosis, and is being used very successfully to resolve these unprocessed events, fast and effectively, allowing the brain to store them as a past memory and dis-empowering them.
This allows you to feel safe and empowered, back in control of your emotions and your life and, to be free…
”JUST IMAGINE….. what would that feel like to YOU?”