What is Trauma Therapy?
The trauma therapy is based on therapeutic methods focused on the body, especially on the Somatic Experiencing and the NeuroAffective Relational Model. These contemporary methods efficiently and gently help us to process the effects of shock, trauma and stress. Through awareness of experience in the here and now they connect us with our own natural healing capacities. In this manner, we can resolve the physical and psychological symptoms of traumatic experiences.
The consequences of unprocessed trauma may persevere in the nervous system for years or even decades in the form of elevated arousal levels and reduced self-regulation and flexibility capabilities of the nervous system. Such body is usually tense, cramped or numb. We might feel helpless, paralysed, depressed, scared, panicked, enraged, irritable, absent, shy, etc. We can develop a variety of symptoms including chronic body pains, migraines, lower immunity, insomnia, hyperactivity, chronic fatigue, repressed or promiscuous sexual behaviour, etc. Different stimuli (for instance a particular sound, smell, image or feeling) can rapidly and excessively excite us. Flashes of memory and feelings, tied to an unprocessed past experience, can occur. Levine illustrates this by using the metaphor of being locked in a labyrinth of trauma. As a consequence, our capacity to experience joy and pleasure is reduced.
Description of the Session and the Expected Effects
When working with trauma, it is not necessary for the client to discuss the traumatic event in great detail or to re-experience it. Instead, we focus on the client’s bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts, possible images and body language which appear in the context of a particular past trauma or a challenging everyday situation. In doing so, we can gradually carry out and complete the unfinished defensive sequences of fight or flight, thereby reducing the high activation of the nervous system. In other words, we set free the survival energies that were blocked by the trauma. These become available as a pure life force. With clients who were locked into their fears, anxiety, rage or depression, feelings of security, inner peace and self-empowerment are strengthened.
Somatic Experiencing is a very efficient method for working with shock traumas (these are connected with specific situations), whilst the NeuroAffective Relational Model is used to work with long-term consequences of traumas from childhood (abuse, neglect, insufficient emotional support, etc.) and the related harmful beliefs, feelings and strategies. The NeuroAffective Relational Model complements the approach of Somatic Experiencing and its emphases (regulation of the nervous system, awareness of the bodily sensations, working with bodily expressions, feelings and meanings, strengthening the sources of personal power) with working with identity and relational issues.
Trauma therapy is efficient also for processing the consequences of prenatal traumas, traumas which occurred during the birthing process, etc.
Both with processing of developmental and shock traumas, the emphasis is on rediscovering and reconnecting with the body in order to increase our own vitality, resilience to stressful situations, improve the ability to enjoy life, as well as to connect with ourselves and others.