Trauma is something that happens to people that comes to totally dominate people’s lives because of events that are so jarring that they tend to create a railroad effect for other negative things that happen in someone’s life. They tend to be so shocking that they create a negative effect in people’s brains that leads to alot of negative effects in their lives.
How Bad of a Problem Is Trauma?
People are becoming more aware of trauma these days, but it is becoming more predominant because of wars in other countries, natural disasters, but also because of all the serious, awful life experiences in people have. And the younger people are the worse they can be.
What To Do About It
There are 4 things you can do if you’ve been affected by these events to lessen or neutralize the effects of trauma:
Relaxation Skills: Deep breathing is one of these. It’s also known as deep relaxing breathing or yogic breathing. In this type of breathing you breathe in through the nose to the count of four, hold for a second or two, then you exhale through the mouth to the count of 4, 6, or 8. Doing this for 5 to 10 minutes at a time can help the body calm down from what would otherwise be a hypervigilant state.
Some form of movement that grounds one in their bodies. The psychiatrist Bessel Van der Kolk has written in his book The Body Keep Score about something that helps people who’ve experienced trauma is to get grounded in their bodies with some form of movement or exercise such as yoga. If yoga doesn’t appeal to you something like horseback riding or fly-fishing (which has been shown to have very positive effects for service veterans) that gets you out in nature can help you to not live so much ‘from the neck up’ as so many people who’ve been affected by trauma tend to do. If nothing else something as simple as holding an ice cube or standing in the sun to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin helps you to feel more in your body.
Trauma therapy: This is very important for people who have had ‘Big T’ traumas to help them work through these events. Likewise for individuals who have had ‘Small T’ traumas that may have been more frequent, but have still had an overall negative impact on their lives, trauma therapy can be very important as well. The most common form of trauma therapy is EMDR, which is short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. I also do another form of trauma therapy known as Image Transformation Therapy, which is even gentler than EMDR which allows individuals to work through these traumatic experiences so that their brains are in a way re-wired and not subject to the earth-shattering effects of remembering an unpleasant event. This is the way it is for most people that when they remember an unpleasant event, that’s just what it is instead of something devastating
Containment: If you are somebody who has benefitted from trauma therapy (or not) you may be aware of some container like a bowl or a box in your therapist’s office that serves as a type of receptacle that you can figuratively send memories or bothersome, intrusive events into that you’re not meant to deal with so that you don’t have to deal with them for any given period of time. It’s a healthy form of compartmentalization, which some people do all too well. People with trauma need to find a healthy way to compartmentalize, and having a place to ‘send’ all those impressions and intrusive thoughts that would otherwise tend to dominate their lives is really important. This is usually done in conjunction with having a therapist that can help you do that.
Getting Them Implemented
Those are the 4 things that are really central for the people who have trauma to help them get out of it, and trauma is something that in and of itself doesn’t allow people to get out of it. The more you’re able to get out of the traumatic experience, the more you are able to keep things in their proper perspective and live like you hope to live. If I can be of any help or support, you’re welcome to give me a call or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to talk to you about ways that I can help you with trauma. The main thing is to get some good, effective, skillful help with it so that it doesn’t need to run and ruin your life.
About the author: Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas. He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin. He now works with adults and adolescents of all ages in private practice.