Trauma, Stress and PTSD

What is Trauma?

Trauma is overwhelming stress from past experiences that may still impact you in the present moment even though the event has passed. The word trauma may sound like a big word, but all it means is literally "wound". As with physical wounds there can be small wounds, big wounds, visible wounds and hidden wounds.

Over the years of my practice I noticed a vast majority of my clients who work with me suffer from various degrees of psychological traumatisation. While I had a sense that most mental health problems went back to some form of emotional wounding, this study confirms that almost all diagnoses mask the role of trauma and adverse life events.

Most recently, I came to acknowledge that there appears to be a correlation between trauma and neurodivergence. This sparked for me further exploration, research and training. If you imagine traumatic experiences being an engine that drives reactions to perceived danger and threats, ADHD is an extremely powerful fuel that will accelerate extreme reactions.

How do I know if I am traumatised?

Sometimes it might be very easy for you to tell that you are traumatised, because the trauma is for example a single, extremely stressful event such as an accident, a loss of a loved one, an assault, or you might have survived a life threatening medical procedure.

And sometimes you might not know that you are traumatised because psychological traumatisation was experienced over extended periods of time such any forms of psychological abuse, maltreatment and neglect.

In these instances you may notice that your mood is low; maybe you feel intense anxiety, stress, or other difficult feelings in the body that you don’t want to feel. When the link between your symptoms and your experiences are missing, I often hear a variation of: “I don’t know why feel this way. My life is actually good.“.

As therapy progresses, and our collaborative, therapeutic relationship develops, relational tragedies you may have experienced come to the surface. This is quite a normal process in trauma therapy, because our psychological system will provide information when there is enough support to deal with traumatic experiences.

How can trauma be treated?

Since support, feelings of containment and trust are very important for trauma survivors, we will spend some time to establish these qualities before we address any trauma. We will also look at your history and upbringing to get a picture of the challenges you are facing in the present moment.

I came to acknowledge that there isn’t one, single approach that works best with trauma. Each client has different needs, and therefore my therapy is an amalgamation of various approaches. The core of my clinical approach is based on these evidence based approaches:

  • Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR) is effective for the treatment of PTSD and due to its evidence base it is recommended by National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) (see 1.6.18). I am formally trained in this approach.
  • Trauma Informed Psychotherapy draws from neuroscience and mindfulness and is particular important to help clients to learn new skills about regulating emotions. I am also formally trained in this approach.
  • Internal Family Systems (IFS) appears from my clinical experience one of the most effective approaches to help address debilitating internal conflicts. I became aware of this approach through my personal therapy and I am self-taught in this approach. Formal IFS training is on my list.
  • The Safe & Sound Protocol (SSP) by Steven Porges was developed to naturally activate our social engagement system which helps us to feel safe. This is done by stimulating vagus nerve through listening to music. I am a certified provider of this approach.

As a humanistically trained psychotherapist, I am also aware that a collaborative, therapeutic relationship is the most important therapeutic element to heal from trauma.