What is Trauma?
According to the American Psychological Association, trauma “is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster.” They may also include neglect, acts of racism or discrimination, and other events that overwhelm our physical and emotional systems.
Major, “Big-T” traumas often involve a real or perceived immediate threat to our safety and wellbeing, like an attack or horrible accident.
Yet it’s also important to recognize the significance of “little-t” traumas, incidents that are not necessarily life-threatening but can still have a powerful effect on our mental health, like parental divorce or non-violent bullying.
What is PTSD?
Both “Big-T” and “little-t” trauma can cause actual changes in the way our brain functions. We may become more alert to threats, less trusting, etc. These changes are neurobiological responses to what we’ve been through.
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is an accumulation of these symptoms that lasts more than a month. Its symptoms often develop within three months of a traumatic event but can make themselves known as late as several years after the trauma.
- Intrusive memories
- Negative changes in thinking and mood, such as hopelessness or emotional numbing
- Avoidance of reminders
- Hypervigilance, feeling like you always are “on alert”
- Hypersensitivity, becoming easily startled or surprised
How Do You Treat Trauma?
It can be challenging and confusing to embark on your healing journey; that’s okay. We’ve created a free ebook describing the basics of healing from trauma here.
There are many different, evidence-based methods that can meet people’s unique healing needs, and we have listed several of the most effective therapies below No matter which method you choose, we highly recommend working with a therapist who is experienced in providing trauma-informed care.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Brainspotting
EMDR and Brainspotting are brain-based therapies, which means they work on a neurological level to help you process and heal from traumatic incidents. We are passionate about offering these therapies because they tend to be highly efficient, and require less talk than traditional therapy.
Trauma-Informed yoga can be powerful for those who feel disconnected from or not in control of their bodies after trauma. It is a gentle practice that goes entirely at your own pace. Many find it to be empowering and invigorating.
Psychodynamic Therapy looks towards our past experiences and how they’ve affected our relationship and behavior patterns in the long term. This can be particularly valuable for those who’ve experienced traumatic or upsetting events in childhood or adolescence.
Expressive Arts Therapy
For those who prefer to express themselves creatively, expressive arts therapies such as writing, drawing, and sandtray can be the perfect outlet to explore past experiences. These methods are also helpful for children and adolescents.
Our clinicians have written a number of blogs on trauma and healing. Find recent posts on the right-hand side of the page!
The Resilient Brain Project
You can find apps, blogs, interactive games, playlists, and more curated by our trauma therapists at the Resilient Brain Project. Resources include:
- Calming meditations and yoga poses
- Apps to help you manage and assess daily symptoms
- Resources for loved ones wondering how to be good allies
- Animated videos explaining how trauma affects the brain
- Organizations that support trauma across the world
- And more