How to Recover from Trauma
Yesterday someone said to me,
“I don’t know what to do with it, it’s always there, will it always be there?”
What could I say? I could not answer the question, no matter how much my heart was pulling me to reassure and say no. No it won’t. I don’t know.
I don’t know either whether it will always be there.
If you speak to a group of trauma survivors that consider themselves recovered, I suspect they all report that in some way or another the trauma is still there. Recovery is possible and as per the title of Pete Walker’s book on complex PTSD you can move from surviving to thriving. But what does this mean and how can you recover from trauma?
How to Deal with Trauma
Trauma is an emotional response to an event that made you think your life was in danger. Typically, the event or events is evidently terrible. Such as war, a terrorist attack, violence, abuse etc. Trauma also occurs after events with no clear negative intent. Dr. Gabor Maté in interview with Diane Poole Heller speaks of being left to cry as a baby. The doctor gave the instruction to his mother to feed him on a schedule. She found the experience painful, and he screamed for milk for an hour whilst she unintentionally tormented him by not responding to the cry for food as per the doctor’s advice. Diane Poole Heller confirmed that this type of experience, will cause trauma to babies, especially when it happens repeatedly. Trauma is not what happened to you, rather your emotional (and autonomic) response to what happened.
Trauma stays with you; it is not a momentary response or experience. Trauma is what you carry around with you day in, day out forever – until you find a way to recover. Many people wonder how to get over trauma. Trauma is not something you deal with in the moment, neither is it something you simply get over. Trauma is something you take time to process and work through. There is no one fix or cure all, it is a step-by-step process using different perspectives and techniques to make your way through.
How to Recover from Emotional Trauma
Trauma in this sense is always emotional, whilst an experience might be traumatic and the event/s that caused the trauma physical there is always an emotional reaction. The emotional trauma causes physical symptoms.
Trauma happens when you feel helpless and in danger, your experience might have lasted for a relatively short time such as in a car crash or for a prolonged period for example in an abusive relationship. Regardless of the duration when your sense of security shatters, and you feel unsafe the result is emotional trauma.
Recovery from an emotional experience is akin to a physically traumatic event. There are many avenues out there, recovery from trauma takes a holistic approach that incorporates all parts of you, the physical through somatic practises, therapy for the emotional and more.
How to Recover from Trauma
Hypnotherapy for trauma is a starting point on your road to recovery. Hypnosis allows a state of calm from which you can reflect on your traumatic experience without feeling overwhelmed by it. Bessel Van Der Kolk believes that the capacity to quietly observe oneself is a critical factor in the integration of traumatic memories. When you do so with the support of an experienced therapist you know you are in a safe place where the observations cannot harm you in the same way the experience did.
A 1946 documentary titled Let There Be Light is an exploration of the diagnosis and treatment of what we now call PTSD. The predominant treatment at the time was hypnosis and the film shows the way hypnosis helps the patients find words for things they felt too afraid to remember. It is this ability to find words and feel deeply that will start the process of moving forwards. When you allow yourself to remember you stop fighting and supressing. The letting go of the fight gives a sense of relief that helps you begin to recover.
Yoga and Hypnotherapy
Hypnosis is a tool that you can use regularly to help you take control of your reactions, so you have space to feel deeply and use introspection to process and integrate your traumatic experience/s so you no longer feel out of control and overwhelmed. Most hypnotherapists have an awareness of the power of breath and the autonomic nervous system. Meditation and breathwork help ease anger, depression, and anxiety. Three things that often-come hand in hand with trauma. Yoga is the go-to for further guidance on breath work and meditation. Although a meditative state of mind is synonymous with a hypnotic (What is the difference between hypnosis and meditation? (juliethollingsworth.com), the hypnosis used in a hypnotherapy session is more focused on an outcome than yoga nidra. I always advocate seeking support from more than one modality, hypnotherapy and yoga used alongside each other is a beautiful combination for your recovery.