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Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the event itself. 

They arise when residual energy from the experience is not discharged from the body. 

This energy remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds...

                                                                                                                                                                 ~ Peter Levine

Redefining Trauma


Despite what many people believe, it does not always take a large-scale incident such as combat, natural disasters or violent assaults for a person to feel traumatized. And not everyone who experiences such an event ends up with PTSD.  Rather than using the event to determine whether or not someone has trauma, I let the body do the talking.  I consider trauma to be what happens when the body suffers an overwhelming response to a stressful event.  This perspective emphasizes the reaction to the event rather than the event itself, which is why I often refer to the symptoms more as a trauma response. 

nervous system response to stress

Science has shown us that trauma responses can develop just as prominently through quieter and subtler experiences of neglect, rejection or abandonment. Unfortunately people often dismiss these “invisible/intangible” experiences as something we should “get over,” or “grow out of.”  Yet there is sufficient evidence to show that such experiences can be just as detrimental to the nervous system response and lead to maladaptive behaviors and feelings.  From my perspective, this type of trauma, known as developmental trauma, can be more insidious.  Having no explanation as to why you feel and act the way you do typically leads to strong judgment against self, feelings of not good enough, or being unworthy, always a failure.  And when nothing changes no matter how hard you try, it just reinforces the negative beliefs.  It seldom occurs to people that this is a trauma response.


Trauma Responses


Although you may not be able to identify a specific event as being traumatic, it is important to remember that we are looking through the eyes of the nervous system.  If you can relate to any of the following experiences, then it is possible your body is stuck in a trauma response:

  • Avoiding situations, people, places

  • Chronic Pain

  • Depression

  • Digestive Issues

  • Difficulty trusting others and forming healthy relationships

  • Easily startled, always feeling like you are on alert

  • Fears and phobias

  • Feeling completely shut down or numb – like you are just walking through life

  • Feeling unsafe in the world

  • Intense feelings of shame, despair, hopelessness

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Flashbacks

  • Generalized Anxiety

  • Hypervigilance and mistrust

  • Insomnia, night terrors

  • Intrusive memories

  • Isolation

  • Lost sense of self

  • Missing parts of the day; memory lapses

  • Mood swings

  • Never feeling good enough

  • Numbing

  • Obsessive Behaviors

  • Overreactions to minor stressors

  • Panic attacks

  • Reacting to situations for reasons that you don’t know

  • Restlessness

  • Self-destructive behaviors

  • Unable to leave your house

A Different Approach


Our work together typically begins through the lens of the nervous system in what is called “bottom up processing.” This means that you do not need to start with recounting memories or changing beliefs about how you feel.  Utilizing body-based practices, such as Somatic Experiencing and Trauma Informed Yoga Therapy, we work with the sensations that underlie the feelings and explore how they influence the way you feel and act. You will learn how to regulate the stress response and build resilience when activated. This somatic approach helps establish trust and safety within your body and has a natural ripple effect into your emotional and cognitive well-being.  It is an empowering approach that helps you take control of your inner experience.  Read more...

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