psychological treatment PTSD

How did I get here? The effects of traumatic experiences

“AT THE CORE OF RECOVERY IS SELF AWARENESS. The most important phrases in trauma therapy are “Notice that” and “What happens next?”

Often my clients feel really puzzled and confused. They cannot understand how they developed their current issue – “how did I get here”? Can it all be blamed on bad genes and difficult childhood?

As they say: “Genes load the gun and the environment triggers it”. We are born with a set of personality trades but we cannot predict how the events in our life will affect us and how it will all be put together.

What clients underestimate a lot, is how the environment in which they grew up have affected the development of their brain. They way you respond to your current stress situation did not come from nowhere. That’s why it’s so important to unpack those past stories and understand where and how they were born.

“AT THE CORE OF RECOVERY IS SELF AWARENESS. The most important phrases in trauma therapy are “Notice that” and “What happens next?”. Traumatised people live with seemingly unbearable sensations : They feel heartbroken and suffer from intolerable sensations in the our of their stomach or tightness in their chest. Yet avoiding feeling theses sensations in our bodies increases our vulnerability to being overwhelmed by them.BODY AWARENESS PUTS US IN TOUCH WITH OUR INNER WORLD, THE LANDSCAPE OF OUR ORGANISM. Simply noticing our annoyance, nervousness, or anxiety immediately helps us shift our perspective and opens up new options other than our automatic, habitual reactions. Mindfulness puts us in touch with the transitory nature of our feelings and perceptions. When we pay focused attention to our bodily sensations, we can recognise the ebb and flow of our emotions and, with that, increase our CONTROL over them.

Traumatised people are often afraid of feeling. It is not so much the perpetrators (who, hopefully, are no longer around to hurt them) but their own physical sensations that now are the enemy. Apprehension about being hijacked by uncomfortable sensations keeps the body frozen and the mind shut. Even though the trauma is a thing of the past, the emotional brain keeps generating sensations that make the sufferer feel scared and helpless. It’s not surprising that so many trauma survivors are compulsive eaters and drinkers, fear making love, and avoid many social activities : Their sensory world is largely off limits. “

Bassel Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score