Trauma- and stressor-related behaviours are when someone is exposed to a traumatic or stressful event causing psychological distress following the exposure of this event or situation (APA, DSM-5).
Trauma responses typically occur after the event and sometimes may be delayed due to self-preservation and defense mechanisms. Trauma is understood to cause distress and disability, which stops or prevents someone from doing things they would normally do or have an intense fear-based response.
Trauma can cause a variety of responses and what may seem traumatic to one individual may not inherently cause trauma responses in another.
Trauma is when a person identifies and directly, witness or overhear in their experiences where a perceived threat and imminent risk of harm, serious injury or death, sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional violence, repeated exposure to intense events over time, accidents, experiencing harm or threats from close family, partners, or friends. These are just a few things that many people may experience.
- Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive memories
- Recurrent dreams, or nightmares
- Children may have repetitive play that resemble aspects of the event
- Dissociative states and reactions (not being fully present and loss of control or awareness)
- Intense distress or anxiety-related symptoms
- Avoidance behaviours of thoughts, feelings, places, people, and objects etc.
- Mood shifts
- Physical reactions: shaking, hypervigiliance, irritability, startle responses, troubles focusing, memory struggles, overall restlessness etc.
- Detachment from feelings
- Sleep disruptions and eating habits changed
- Intense fear
*These are some of the most common symptoms that one may be able to identify. However, every person, body, and event is different and they may be unique to that person and their trauma.
Therapy for trauma and PTSD-related symptoms is an intentionally slower process. As quick as something can happen to make an impact, learning and undoing that takes time. Therapy can help you to learn how to create a safe space for yourself and being in a safe relationship with your therapist. Your therapist will help you navigate the intensity of the distress and help you build safety in that works for you.
Relational trauma and relationship-based with close intimate partners, family, friends or loved ones can be especially hard to recover from. These cause attachment rupture and wounds impacting the way we trust others. Since, human beings are especially relational based, craving connection, love and support, therapy may take a longer course of treatment.
Every person is different and therapy may be needed on an intensive basis in the beginning and slowly reduced as the sense of safety is increased. Depending on the severity of the symptoms persons may need to have 2 sessions a week, then weekly, then reduced to bi-weekly.
If you are considering trauma therapy please know that therapy for trauma healing may take a minimum of 2 years for deep healing.
The approaches that your therapist uses are Mindfulness-Based Somatic Therapy (MBST) and Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Family Systems Therapy. Through integrating these methods your therapist understands that the mind and body get disconnected in order for your survival which ultimately, are the responses/symptomes you are recognizing in yourself.
These therapies are evidenced-based, meaning there has been significant scientific research that shows that these modalities are truly supportive and helpful for recovery and healing.
Mental health and our understanding in the Psychology community is constantly growing. We believe in keeping up-to-date with the most helpful therapy approaches to support clients, being and becoming proficient in them.