What is Trauma?
Trauma is caused by how your nervous system reacts to overwhelming events that trigger you into states of helplessness and or powerlessness.
Trauma causes our bodies to bypass its natural design to automatically fight or flight when confronted with the experience of helplessness or powerlessness.
A traumatic event involves a single experience, or enduring a repeating event, that completely overwhelms the individual's ability to integrate the experience and emotions involved with the event.
What Are The Symptoms of Trauma?
On one end of the spectrum symptoms can be: anxiety, sleeplessness, intrusive thoughts, obsessions, aggressive behavior, cutting off, acting out, outbursts, etc.
On the other end of the spectrum: feeling confused, avoiding and isolating behaviors, chronic accommodating behaviors, chronic denial and on the extreme end: numbing, depression, dissociation and splitting.
People who have trauma
And want to heal
Will need to learn how to access
Other parts of their brain
That are directly connected to their autonomic nervous system
What Causes Trauma?
Events such as rape, natural disasters, physical and verbal abuse, childhood abuse and neglect, torture, domestic violence and many experiences in war.
Other examples that cause trauma, that are not often associated with trauma are: car accidents, surgery, near drownings and exposure to long term extreme poverty, experiences of betrayal, bullying,
abandonment and the loss of someone very close to you.
Different people will react differently to similar events; not all people who have been through a traumatic event becomes traumatized. Trauma is in the biology, it is how the nervous system reacts to the event that determines if someone develops symptoms.
Trauma symptoms can also show up in very specific areas of our lives
And are not necessarily caused by some unusual event.
Many people have trauma symptoms in specific areas of their life which is caused by the patterns and incapability’s of their caregivers; for examples some families are prone to unintentional rejection of: anger, sadness, joy or helplessness. As a result, defenses and blocks form around these expressions and are often what is in the way of intimacy with the self and what is blocking a client's untapped potentials capacities.
The A B C's of Our Nervous System
Our bodies are designed not to withstand too much stress, so when you can not fight or run away from this overwhelming experience, our bodies are designed to go into a freeze state.
A freeze state or response can often go undetected, it can be hidden; you can be frozen in one part of your life and not in others.
A freeze state can show up as any of these symptoms in a spectrum of: feeling confused, cannot think clearly, avoiding behaviors, isolating behaviors, chronic accommodating behaviors, chronic denial and on the other end of the spectrum: numbing, depression, dissociation and splitting.
Neurobilogically speaking, the fight and or flight response is actually stuck in the nervous system; the fight and or flight response, wants to be released. The stuck flight/flight response, is revealed to you by such symptoms as: anxiety, sleeplessness, intrusive thoughts, obsessions, neurotic tendencies, acting out, outbursts, re-enactments, etc.
Anxiety based symptoms
Are not the enemy....they are not pathological
They are signals from your body
that the stuck fight or flight response
wants to finally complete itself
People who have PTSD have both sets of symptoms: The freeze: confusion, numbing, avoiding dissociated spectrum and the Fight/Flight anxious, obsessed, acting out, outburst, cutting off, spectrum. People with PTSD are in a stuck loop that needs grounding and release; they need for a new body/brain connection to open the loop of the stuck fight/freeze response and let go into a state of resilency and empowerment.
RELEASING THE BIOLOGY OF TRAUMA SYMPTOMS
In order to heal, if you are in a freeze position, then you will need to tolerate little bits of the anxiety, in order to release the fight response or experience the relief of hopping the fence and getting away in order to release the flight response. Your body, once given the needed space and time, will inform you and your therapist which way it needs to release.
In order for the fight or flight response to inform you how it is going to release itself, you will first need to experience your feelings of helplessness or powerlessness in little bits.
The question becomes, how can you experience little bits of this kind of terror without it taking over, without doing more harm and re-traumatizing you?
Accessing the Right Side of the Brain; Accessing Sensations
Is Essential In Order To Induce the Release Of Trauma Symptoms
There is a certain alchemy state that happens between two people who are both in the right side of their brain…..a right brain to a right brain creates a healing space where the brain/body can find its natural state of knowing in order to release and heal.
When working with trauma, it is essential that a person find things in their life that they associate a sense of well being with AND are able to find this feeling of well being (goodness, calm, tender, etc), within the realm of their sensations.
Some people have things in their life that they feel good about but may have trouble finding the landscape of sensations within.
Other people may have nothing they can feel good about but with the help of a trauma therapist, who knows how to drop into their own landscape of sensations inside, will be able to help their clients access something subtle and calm or spacious within their sensate awareness.
Finding sensate awareness is the key here. I am not talking about knowing your aches and pains, I am speaking about using your Cognitive brain (thinking brain) to focus (not figure out, not create meaning) but to focus with a simple curiosity on the inner landscape of your body.
Knowing how to experience sensate awareness
is the doorway to healing trauma.
Lisa Ulanoff MHC SEP is a psychotherapist who specializes in the gentle process of opening, discovery and release of trauma. Check out my home page to read more details.
I offer a variety of PowerPoint Presentations on Trauma
to Clinics and Agencies in the New York Area
How to Incorporate the Brain/Body Awareness Into Your Practice
This PowerPoint presentation is recommended for therapists working with trauma
You will learn the ABC's of how understanding the functioning of the nervous system can give great insight into anxiety, depression and other disorders; Learn how to contact the autonomic system in order to help induce the release of symptoms; Learn about the neurobiology of the client/therapist relationship and how it effects healing; How not to unknowingly re-traumatize your clients; How to track and understand the signals of trauma release.
Trauma: A Neurobiological Perspective: Coming Out of Freeze
This PowerPoint Presentation is recommended for the clients of trauma, war veterans, rape victims, victims of natural disasters and other traumatic events.
You learn that your symptoms are the result of the brilliant design of your biology. You will learn exercises to help you find a stable sense of self that you can use in stressful situations, that by honoring and understanding your biology you can change your psychology, that the release of trauma is a doorway to a confidence and self empowerment that was beyond your reach previously to the trauma.
Domestic Violence: A Neurobiological Perspective
This PowerPoint presentation is recommended for therapists working with Domestic Violence
You will learn to detect the often hidden signs of a freeze response, how not to re-traumatize your clients, how to help your clients slowly come out of freeze, how to work with the body/brain connection, how to look for and utilize the fight or flight response, how to maintain and utilize a calm nervous system of your own and to utilize the imagination to release the dysfunctional fight or flight response.
Coming Into Empowerment:
Understanding Domestic Violence Through a Neurobiological Lens:
This PowerPoint Presentation is recommended for the victims of Domestic Violence
You learn to that your symptoms are the result of the brilliant design of your biology, you will learn exercises to help you find a calm sense of self that you can use in stressful situations, that by honoring and understanding your biology you can change your psychology, that the release of trauma is a doorway to a confidence and self empowerment that was beyond your reach previously to the a
Please feel free to call with any questions about Somatic Experiencing Sessions, Workshops or PowerPoint Presentations: 212-285-1999