Trauma and Dissociative Disorders
Stress is the emotional, mental and physical response we have in challenging situations we feel ill-equipped to deal with. Stress tends to arise when we feel threatened, fearful, overwhelmed or uncertain. It can also be thought of as a fight, flight or freeze response to a real or imagined circumstance in which we feel a lack of control or an inability to cope.
Very frightening or distressing events may result in a psychological wound or injury. This trauma can result in difficulty in coping or functioning normally. Everyone’s reaction to potentially traumatic experiences is different. Most people recover well with the help of family and friends and do not experience long-term problems. Some people experience problems directly after the traumatic event or much later.
I am experienced in working effectively with complex trauma including childhood physical and sexual abuse and neglect and exposure to domestic violence. Trauma resolution requires both somatic and cognitive therapy and can encourage post traumatic growth.
Top-Down Approach to Trauma
Brain imaging studies show the benefit of cognitive strategies with trauma in decreased activation of the amygdala (the fear centre) and increased activation in the prefrontal cortex, the site of self-regulation.
Top-down approaches engage the neocortex, frontal lobes & prefrontal lobes associated with thinking, speaking & current emotional awareness. However, top down language-based approaches are less beneficial during times of stress and dysregulation.
Bottom-Down Approach to Trauma
This approach work with the parts of the brain that are responsible for memories and automatic survival responses and includes EMDR, RET and Hypnosis. The memories of danger, take precedence over the ability to calmly think things through.
Therapy with this approach allows the person to explore the dysregulated feelings and sensations after safety and stabilisation are built and felt. Linking thinking to interoceptive awareness of sensations to reprocess trauma helps younger parts of the person to develop awareness that the danger is in the past.