Healing from Trauma
What is Trauma?
In general, trauma is a disturbing event that diminishes your sense of control.
Therapists often refer to two types of trauma: “Big-T Traumas” and “Little t-Traumas.”
Don’t let those names fool you – the term “little-t trauma” is not meant to minimize the types of experiences the term represents. In fact, the term ‘little-t trauma’ was developed with the hope of validating that some experiences, although not as obviously traumatic in the sense that safety was at risk, are still damaging and can cause difficulties long after the experiences are over.
The DSM-5 defines a PTSD trauma as any situation where one’s life or bodily integrity is threatened; these are typically Big ‘T’ traumas.
Examples of Big T Traumas:
- Sexual Abuse
- Auto Accidents
Therapists refer to ‘little-t traumas’ as every day disturbances, conflicts, and feeling states that exceed our capacity to cope and cause a disruption in emotional functioning. While they may not be life-threatening like Big-T Traumas, they can lead an individual to feel helplessness, hopelessness, shame, fear, and pain.
Despite their nickname as ‘little-t traumas,’ these outcomes are certainly not to be minimized. In fact it is the minimization that we usually use to attempt to ‘move on’ from little-t traumas that often makes the incident traumatic.
Examples of Little t Traumas:
- your parents getting a divorce
- unwanted life transitions
- your partner’s infidelity
- a difficult adjustment to having a baby
- adopting a child
- financial stress
- ongoing conflict with a friend, family member, or coworker
As you can see from the examples above, trauma often happens in relationships.
Trauma can include any instances where our feelings are minimized, either by ourselves or by others. In other words, when our ego perceives us as being less-than or unworthy of love and connection, we experience trauma.
While the distinction between Big T- and Little t- trauma is helpful for educational purposes, it should be noted that ‘little t’ traumas do not imply that the events should be less important for treatment or shouldn’t effect you as much.
Dr. Gabor Mate, a renowned addiction expert, explains trauma in a beautiful way, one that eliminates the need to separate trauma into Big T- and little t- traumas. He said,
The essence of trauma is that, as a result of the overt abuse or neglect, or because of the relational trauma, we lose the connection to our essence. That’s what the trauma is. The trauma is not what happened; … the trauma is that, as a result of [what happened], I lost the connection to myself. Hence, I lost the connection to my essential qualities: my joy, my vitality, my clarity, my wisdom, my power, my strength, my courage. That’s the trauma!
What is Post Induction Therapy?
Post Induction Therapy (PIT) is based on the work of Pia Mellody, a leading expert in the field of codependency, relational trauma, childhood wounding, abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
The model was developed at The Meadows, a treatment center for treating trauma, drug and alcohol addiction, sex addiction, panic and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, codependency, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.
Post Induction Therapy Can Help You:
- Process difficult emotions that are leftover from painful childhood experiences,
- Nurture yourself
- Affirm yourself
- Strengthen relationships—both with yourself, and with others
- Bolster your self-esteem by reducing your feelings of shame
- Find compassion for yourself and others
- Reduce reactivity
- Ditch the chaos in your schedule, relationships, and even in your mind
- Live a life in balance
- Develop functional boundaries
- Become a more functional adult
- Overcome the addictive processes used to numb emotions
- Become more comfortable with your own emotions and the emotions of others
- Heal codependency and relational trauma
Because this model gets at the root of the problem that brought you into counseling, this model can be thought of as a cure, rather than a bandaid, of what brings us into counseling.
While PIT is not considered brief therapy, it is the most comprehensive and effective method of counseling I’ve used with clients.
Because we are human, most of us have experienced trauma—a disconnection to our essence—in some way.
Symptoms of Trauma
Barb Maiberger provides a list of symptoms that can occur from experiencing trauma or life disturbing events:
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Experience sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
- Find yourself hyper vigilant (feeling constantly on-guard)
- Over-react to noises or other environmental cues that didn’t bother you before
- Find yourself irritable, angry and experiencing outbursts
- Have nightmares
- Have recurrent and intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event
- Act or feel as if the experience is happening again in the present
- Experience intense psychological distress and/or physiological arousal when exposed to (internal or external) stimuli that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event
- Experience flashbacks (suddenly feeling as though the event is happening in the present)
- Experience sleep problems; difficulty falling or staying asleep (often to avoid nightmares associated with the event)
- Attempt to avoid thoughts or feelings associated with the traumatic event
- Attempt to avoid activities or situations that evoke memories of the traumatic event
- Find yourself unable to recall an important aspect of the traumatic event
- Feel detached or estranged from others and your daily life
- Sense you’re unable to feel as you once did; you feel numb or spaced out, unable to care or to love
- Feel less interest and pleasure in activities
- Feel a sense of foreboding and anticipate a limited future; you don’t expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a long life
If you are experiencing several of these symptoms you might benefit from EMDR Therapy.
There is Hope
EMDR can help alleviate or lessen a trauma’s impact on our daily lives, while codependency treatment and Post Induction Therapy (PIT) can aid in healing relational trauma and help strengthen boundaries.
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a tool that helps people heal from distressing and traumatic events.
EMDR is different from talk therapy — and that’s why a lot of my clients love it. With EMDR, a client is able to process something in a way that doesn’t require a lot of talking. Instead, EMDR helps your brain fully process a memory in a safe, supportive, and healing way.
It’s important to know that not all therapists can provide EMDR. A therapist needs a lot of specialty training in this method before being able to use it with clients.
What is PIT?
Post Induction Therapy (PIT) is a comprehensive model of therapy that helps people heal in the core issues of shame, self esteem, boundaries, and self-care.
These issues are often rooted in the messages we received as children and cane be thought of as developmental wounds.
This model has been the model that helps people get to the root of their problems so they can find lasting change.