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Dr Linda Hoyle

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What is

Trauma?

Trauma is a normal human response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing.  The impact of the traumatic event is so extreme at the time that it understandably overwhelms the individual beyond their ability to cope. 

 

The long term result can be that the person feels helpless, loses their sense of self, and becomes isolated, feeling 'in a bubble' distant from others.  They may feel flat and heavy most of the time, being unable to feel the normal range of  emotional and sensory experiences, i.e. dissociation.  Alternatively, they may experience high levels of anxiety, feel agitated, have extreme feelings of panic, and spontaneously be overwhelmed by painful emotions.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is when an individual has experienced a single traumatic event that happened during their childhood or adult years. 

 

Complex PTSD is when an individual has had repeated traumatic experiences and events over a long period of time during their childhood or adult years.  

 

What is the treatment for Trauma?

The therapy treatment for trauma has three phases as outlined below. Although the whole process can take a number of months, clients often see real benefits within a few sessions. 

Phase One: Stabilisation

  • Learn strategies to manage your symptoms of anxiety, depression or dissociation (i.e., being cut off from emotions or body sensations).

  • Understand how trauma is held in your body and how your brain and nervous system get triggered to create 'emotional flashbacks', which means you continuously re-experience the traumatic event as if what happened in the past is happening again now. 

  • Learn ways to re-train your brain to respond differently when you are triggered so that you calm and soothe your nervous system.

  • Understand how to ground yourself and keep your emotions and body in a smooth sailing 'window of tolerance'.

Phase Two: Processing the Trauma

Using an integrative approach to process the traumatic experience with:

   Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy

  • Understand it is a normal coping mechanism to have parts of your personality that had to adapt and behave in a certain way in order to survive the traumatic events.

  • Identify these parts of your personality and safely process the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and body sensations that could not be expressed at the time of the trauma.

  • Safely and gradually discharge and release the distressing emotional and physical sensations of the impact the trauma. 
     

   EMDR* Therapy

  • Identify specific traumatic memories that continue to cause distress and emotional flashbacks when triggered by a 'here and now' experience.

  • Using a structured process to recreate the self healing ability of REM (rapid eye movements) to safely alleviate the distress caused by the traumatic memory.

  • Install positive, self affirming beliefs to replace any unhelpful beliefs that had become linked to the memory.

Phase Three: Integration

  • Unhook from and let go of the part of your personality that experienced trauma.

  • ​Realise who you are as a whole person, and express yourself through the many different parts of your personal identity.

  • Feel more connected to your true self and more authentic in your connection to other people.

  • Remain more consistently in a balanced smooth sailing 'window of tolerance' state, i.e. staying calm, feeling in control and being able to effectively regulate your inner world in response to triggers.

*EMDR = Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing