Dr. Stephen Porges, PhD said, ”If you want to improve the world, start by making people feel safer.” This is the goal of trauma therapy.
We treat single incident and complex trauma. PTSD is a nervous system disorder, not a psychological “mental illness.” We treat it very much as a physical injury.
Cutting edge research has identified changes in major brain structures in people with PTSD. Trauma changes the body and brain and is a very physical injury. Traditional ‘talk therapy’ works by accessing the ‘thinking, speaking’ part of the brain to influence emotional regulation (or the FEELING of being safe). Yoga, meditation and mindfulness are helpful with this. However, the injury to the brain and nervous system are not located in this area of the brain. New neuroscience research in the treatment of trauma has proven that lasting and meaningful healing takes place when we treat the deeper parts of the brain (like the stem and limbic system) by “recalibrating the autonomic nervous system” (Bessel Van der Kolk, 2014).
Trauma can cause the ‘thinking/ planning’ and emotion-regulation parts of the brain to be under-active. At the same time, the fear center in the brain becomes over-active. This can result in feeling chronically stressed, irritable, fearful, and hyper-vigilant. People with PTSD may have difficulty calming themselves down, sleeping, concentrating and thinking clearly, making them feel like they are “losing their minds.” There is truly a battle going on in the brains of people with PTSD and families and friends may not understand.
The “old” way of doing trauma work is to talk about the terrible things that happened until they no longer bother the person. This has proven ineffective and even more traumatizing for many.
Appropriate trauma-informed care means being up to date on the latest neuroscience research with PTSD and using approaches that target healing in the part of the brain that does not use words. These treatments include EMDR, Brainspotting, and somatic experiencing, all of which are proven to be effective in helping reduce symptoms with lasting results.
We have successfully treated many patients who never even told us the nature of their trauma! Of course, talking about the trauma can also feel healing for many, and we encourage our patients to go at their own pace and with their own comfort level. You can choose to talk about it, or not at all. The brain heals itself with the appropriate therapy and we are honored to be the facilitators of your process.
“It’s not the person refusing to let go of the past, but the past refusing to let go of the