What is trauma
Most people would quickly say, is about childhood abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse. These are few sources of trauma. There are many other situations are traumatic but not commonly talked about. A sudden death or loss of a loved one - parents, spouse, family members, friends, pets. An incident where you were bullied in school by peers, a hurtful remark that a teacher said. A sudden break-up of a long term marriage. A motor vehicle accident. A work injury. The list goes on. Anything that happens unexpectedly and suddenly.
What to do when you experience trauma
It is not uncommon to hear people say, the trauma experience will fade away. Unfortunately, they do not fade away, instead they do damage. The emotion usually gets suppressed. The unresolved emotion and unprocessed memory continue to interrupt your functioning, mentally physically. You get headache, stomachache or digestive problem, aches and pains in the body. Some of the mental issues are such as anxiety, depression, low tolerance for stress, loss of confidence. Emotion issues such as anger, frustration, irritable, fearful.
Ideally, you want to get professional help immediately.
Trauma experience is like a photograph captures an event. Before the trauma treatment, you react with a negative thought, feeling or physiologically when you look at the photo. After the trauma treatment, you look at the photo calmly with peace.
Do you need to see a therapist for years to get better?
No. There are many trauma treatment methods. I have many clients who got better quickly, some within five 1-hour sessions. There are many clients experienced one-miracle-session. When clients take longer time to heal, often it is because they have challenging current life events that slow the process down.
In order to receive treatment effectively, you are required to be open and ready to get better; you want to get better; and also you believe you can get better quickly.
Why it is possible to see a change or shift quickly during the treatment process?
Trauma is commonly treated by Exposure Therapy. When one experiences trauma, you react with fear. The fear is the main destructive force. Exposure Therapy, gets you to expose to the fear by revisiting the memory viewing images of the event by imagination or in real life. As you expose to the fear repeatedly over a period of time, the fear diminishes.
Another method to treat trauma is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). When you are exposed to the old memory, EMDR helps you to desensitize the fear or reaction and reprocess the information of the traumatic event, put them into proper perspective and adjust your emotions accordingly.
I integrate Exposure Therapy with EMDR for my trauma treatment service. I call the exposure component of the therapy "watching a movie". Using the 2 powerful tools, it is therefore, no surprises for quick and effective treatment of trauma.
What happen when trauma is left untreated for a period of time?
The impact of trauma can be easily not noticeable or ignored in particularly during the early stage of trauma experience. When trauma is left untreated, you will notice problems quietly creeping out in your daily functioning. Difficulty falling asleep and/or trouble staying asleep, waking up with feeling restlessness. Your mind racing with all sorts of worried thoughts and this becomes a new way of thinking. This new thought process affects the way you view yourself. You feel restless and anxious about life ahead of you. It is common to feel a sense loss of self, not the person used to be, feeling inadequate and helpless. Destructive state of mind leads to struggle of all sorts as a whole, again, commonly it ends with anxiety and depression.
The struggle can be overcome. Part of the treatment requires your willingness to do "homework" for daily practice awareness of your thoughts process and correcting it.
Is there a possibility that you will not benefit from treatment?
Yes, when you have difficulty understanding the treatment process as well as not able to believe you can actually get better after treatment.
Also, when you are taking several types or high dosage of antidepressant. Trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. said "medication don't do a thing to trauma people".
Written by Grace Yong