People who have experienced traumatic events in their life, whether they occurred recently or long ago, may live with the impact of the trauma in their day-to-day activities, inner experience and in their relationships.
Trauma is sometimes described as acute (a recent, single instance such as a violent crime or accident), or chronic (repeated experiences over time such as childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, rape domestic violence, workplace bullying, or war experiences). These events may leave people with distressing symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive memories, depression, fear, anxiety or feelings of numbness. Over time, the aftereffects of trauma may touch their personal or work relationships causing difficulty in trusting others and feelings of disconnection from self and/or others.
Trauma recovery and healing often involves:
- validating your experience of trauma
- regaining control over your body, self and environment
- learning about, establishing and practicing self-care
- creating or restoring safety in your environment and in your relationships with others
- managing and reducing symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive memories, hyper-arousal and numbing
In cases of interpersonal trauma, such as childhood abuse, sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, workplace bullying, or violent crime, a variety of distressing emotions may follow such as shame, anxiety, fear, feelings of not being worthy or lovable, depression, or as if you were at fault in the trauma. Feelings of abandonment or low self-worth may also surface in interpersonal relationships. This type of trauma is often related to power and a key part of healing is recovering a sense of power.
Restoring a sense of power and control
In trauma-informed therapy, the focus is on:
- creating a sense of safety and stability,
- processing emotions and feelings from the traumatic events
- exploring the impact of the trauma on one’s self-perception
- gaining trust in interpersonal relationships
- discovering new meaning related to the traumatic event