The negative effects of trauma can last a lifetime.
Sometimes, it seems like we have gotten past them, only to find that they crop up again.
At times, the effects are subtle, but they eat away at us over time. Other times, they may overtake us, making it difficult to even get through the day.
Usually, it takes treatment to truly move past trauma. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
What, then, are the essential keys to trauma treatment?
1. Finding a Safe Space
Nobody wants to re-experience trauma. Even just talking about a traumatic experience can cause new negative effects.
Therefore, finding a feeling of safety with your therapist is critical.
A trauma therapist isn’t going to just jump right in and expect you to reveal the worst thing that ever happened to you. Instead, they’ll work with you to build trust and therapy will move at the pace that feels safe for you.
Feeling safe is not just about having the right therapist. It is also about learning how to shore up your own internal resources.
There are many things that we can do for ourselves to increase a feeling of safety. Unfortunately, one of the negative effects of trauma is that we may forget how to create our own safety. Trauma treatment helps us rebuild that.
Creating a safe space in your mind is unique to what feels safe for you. Resourcing can include:
- Imagining yourself in a favorite location
- Picturing yourself in a serene setting
- Thinking about a pet that always gives you joy
- Thinking about an activity you love
- Listening to a favorite song
In trauma treatment, you will uncover your own internal safe space. Furthermore, you will learn to access it at will. And you can come back to this safe space at any time, including during therapy, if working on your trauma becomes overwhelming.
3. Staying in Your Body
Another one of the negative effects of trauma is that it can cause us to disconnect from our bodies. Therefore, learning how to be in your body again is an important part of healing.
There are many techniques for this in trauma treatment. For example, it can be as simple as focusing on the feeling of your feet on the ground. Mindfulness, breathing, and touching your extremities with your hands are other methods of getting into and staying in your body.
4. Exploring the Negative Effects
When you are ready—and only when you are ready—you can begin to explore the experience of trauma.
More than looking at what happened, you can look at the effect the experience has on you today. You can identify the negative effects of trauma, and more importantly, identify how you would like to change.
For example, trauma may have impacted you physically, emotionally, and mentally. Hence, you may explore how your thoughts and behaviors have developed as a result of your experiences.
Sometimes, you may feel a certain way or do specific things without really understanding why. Treatment can help you see those links.
5. Changing the Narrative
We often become so overwhelmed with the negative effects of trauma that we get locked into our story about the past. The problem with this is that it limits us. We see ourselves only in a specific, limited way.
However, we can learn to tell our stories authentically, without minimizing the trauma. Furthermore, we can learn to do so in a way that emphasizes our strengths.
The past does not have to have a grip on us forever. The way we once experienced things does not have to be the way we continue to experience them. We can change the narrative to a story. And that empowers us!
You do not have to deal with your trauma alone. Learn more about our approach to trauma and how trauma treatment can help here.