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Trauma counselling

Find ways to empower yourself, heal, and develop coping skills for trauma through services provided by Recovery Arts Counselling in Calgary or remotely.

 

Trauma can deeply impact a person's life, affecting them in various ways, even at the cellular level. It's important to understand that trauma is not just a one-time event but rather an ongoing influence that can affect different areas of the body. The nervous system is one of the most commonly understood regions to be affected.

 

Being physically abused by a sibling when younger without any way to find safety.

 

Experiencing a motor vehicle accident when driving or not driving. 

 

Being caught in a hurricane where escape is not a possibility. 

 

Losing a job without notice that you’ve held for over twenty years. 

 

Divorce.

 

A sexual assault. 

 

Coming out of a cult as an adult after living in one since childhood. 

 

Witnessing violence in a household when growing up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may relate to some of the examples of trauma above. Fortunately, treatment is available for trauma. You don't have to endure the pain by yourself.

 

What are the signs and symptoms of trauma?

 

 

This is a complex question with a complex answer. To give a few details on what someone experiences when it comes to trauma, please see below.

 

  1. Shame.

  2. Hyperarousal

  3. Sleep disturbances (nightmares).

  4. Feeling overwhelmed

  5. Sadness

  6. Anger

  7. Numbness and detachment

  8. Depression

  9. Mood swings

  10. Self-blame

  11. Intrusive memories and flashbacks

  12. Exaggerated startle response

  13. Nausea and gastrointestinal distress

  14. Rumination

  15. Hopelessness

  16. Restlessness

  17. Appetite concerns 

  18. Avoidant behaviors

 

Please note that the above is not an exhaustive list. The symptoms are a combination of immediate and delayed reactions (1-4 references).

 

What brain regions are affected by trauma?

 

Some brain regions affected by trauma are the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, cingulate cortex, and insula. 

 

The prefrontal cortex deals with goal-making, rational thought, decision-making, and personality, to name a few. The amygdala is involved in fear or threat detection and will ask, “Is this person or situation dangerous for me?” 

 

The cingulate cortex involves our ability to regulate emotions, pain expectancy, and monitoring conflict. The cingulate cortex is considered a limbic structure and contains the anterior cingulate cortex, often called the “emotion regulation center.” The insula makes someone aware of their experiences and states in their body and is critical for emotional awareness (5). 

 

The insula also is the site for interoception and proprioception. Interoception is our perception of internal body signals (6). Proprioception, or kinesthesia, “is the sense that lets us perceive the location, movement, and action of parts of the body. It encompasses a complex of sensations, including the perception of joint position and movement, muscle force, and effort (7).”

 

The goal is to decrease amygdala activity and increase prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, and insula activity in the brain (8). The reason for working on the insula is that many people are detached from their bodies upon experiencing trauma. Doing bottom-up exercises involving movement with the body, such as yoga, Qigong, and additional exercises, can help reconnect with the body once more. Helping increase the cingulate cortex will assist with emotional regulation. Increasing the prefrontal cortex activation will help with decision-making, planning, and achieving goals.

 

There are additional brain regions affected by trauma that are not represented here. For a good overview, please seek Bessel van der Kolk’s book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. 

 

What treatments are available for trauma?

 

There are many treatments for trauma. A few are listed below.

 

  1. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

  2. Internal Family Systems Therapy

  3. Accelerated Resolution Therapy

  4. Dialectical Behavior Therapy

  5. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy 

  6. Neurofeedback

  7. Expressive arts - art and music

  8. Eco-therapy

  9. TF-CBT (Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy). 

  10. Prolonged exposure therapy

  11. Narrative exposure therapy

  12. Polyvagal therapy

  13. Somatic therapy

  14. Comprehensive treatment plan with a holistic approach to interventions, including but not limited to treatments listed above and learning proper boundaries in relationships, mindfulness skills, emotional regulation skills, relaxation strategies, sleep hygiene, constructing a weekly routine, cultivating healthy social connections, and exploring ways to self-soothe.

 

 

 

What benefits does trauma treatment bring for someone?

 

  1. Increased resiliency.

  2. Hope for the future.

  3. Improved relationships.

  4. Sense of well-being and safety. 

  5. Healthy emotional regulation.

  6. Assistance with physical health, such as gastrointestinal and the immune system.

  7. Better sleep quality.

  8. Aiding in a healthy dietary regimen.

  9. Improved and deeper relationship with the self.

  10. A move from a survivor to a thriver. 

  11. An elevated sense of meaning and purpose.

  12. A better understanding of spirituality. 

  13. Not avoiding people, places, or situations reminding you of the trauma. 

  14. Increase in self-confidence.

  15. Increase in self-worth.

  16. Increase in self-esteem.

  17. Finding joy more so in life again.

  18. And many more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get the help you need to heal from trauma. Schedule a consultation today.

 

References

 

1. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (US). Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2014. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 57.) Chapter 3, Understanding the Impact of Trauma. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207191/

 

2. Briere J, Scott C. Principles of trauma therapy: A guide to symptoms, evaluation, and treatment. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications; 2006.

 

3. Foa EB, Stein DJ, McFarlane AC. Symptomatology and psychopathology of mental health problems after disaster. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2006;67 Supplement 2:15–25.

 

4. Pietrzak RH, Goldstein RB, Southwick SM, Grant BF. Personality disorders associated with full and partial posttraumatic stress disorder in the U.S. population: Results from Wave 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2011;45:678–686.

 

5. Sweeton, J. (2021). Integrating Brain-Changing Therapeutic Tools and Techniques into Your Clinical Interventions. Powerpoint. Mind Works Consulting and Psychological Services, PLLC.

 

6. https://neurosciencenews.com/interoception-self-awareness-23472/

 

7. Taylor, J. (2009). Proprioception. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Academic Press, 2009.

 

8. Sweeton, J. (2021). Integrating Brain-Changing Therapeutic Tools and Techniques into Your Clinical Interventions. Powerpoint. Mind Works Consulting and Psychological Services, PLLC.

 

9. Porter, S. Taken from https://www.choosingtherapy.com/types-of-trauma-therapy/

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