First 30 Days Blog

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Trauma Is Curable

EmilyVanHornIn our culture there is a lot of misinformation about trauma, what it is and how it can be treated. First, trauma doesn’t affect you because of “what happened,” it’s because of the way the nervous system responds and tries to protect us. How you experience something is specific to each individual. Something that traumatizes one person may empower someone else. When one’s system has experienced threat or has felt greatly overwhelmed, a range of symptoms may develop as problems unless the high level of activation gets properly discharged through the body.

The idea that symptoms of PTSD never really go away but can only be managed is false

The treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder traditionally has included immersion therapy, medication, counseling, or behavior-modification approaches, which can be lengthy, emotionally exhausting and often end with disappointing results. Trauma happens because of disregulation of the nervous system. When our natural self-healing responses have been interrupted or damaged is when we experience symptoms of trauma. The misconception that trauma is a disorder of the mind is what keeps us convinced that trauma isn’t curable. That’s not entirely true. It is curable but not by psychology alone, because it isn’t a mental problem. To achieve true resolution of trauma the nervous system must be addressed and healed.

Our bodies are designed to heal themselves

Did you know that by becoming curious about your physical sensations, you instantly engage your body’s natural physiological healing responses? Mild attention to physical sensation is what causes neural pathways to open in the part of the brain where our instinctual—fight, flight, and freeze—survival responses are stored. Noticing sensation is the way we begin to discharge shock, to let go of held survival energies, and to bring healing to the nervous system.

Resourcing for Resiliency

The first step in healing from trauma is to find out what is already working. So, ask yourself, what in life resources you? Is it walking on the beach, petting your cat, or playing the guitar? Remember some achievement you’re proud of like planning a surprise party for your best friend, growing delicious tomatoes in your garden, or winning an award? Even if you aren’t doing those things in the moment, you will find that by remembering something that empowered you or that you found enjoyable while simultaneously noticing sensations in the body, the way you feel will physical changes. There are some simple self-tracking and self-resourcing techniques that you can learn to help you discharge shock and trauma and enable your nervous system to repair itself, and become more resilient to all types of stress. The best way to experience this is first hand with a trained and qualified practitioner who really understands how trauma affects your autonomic nervous system and who can guide you through the process of recovery.

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Posted by Emily Van Horn on April 16th, 2010 in Health | 5 comments Read related posts in , ,

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  • I read your blog with interest, since I have been dealing with PTSD for about one year. I must disagree with your statement that trauma does not effect you because of what happened. Watching my husband die and having no way to save his life is not something that I can move past by thinking happy thoughts. My physician and therapist have both assisted me in taking steps to manage the specific trauma. I respectfully submit that you are speaking from a clinical perspective and not personal experience.

    — Added by dawnsaul on April 19th, 2010
  • Dawnsaul: I feel you misunderstood the blog. Emily stated that trauma does effect you – by the way you body (i.e. nervous system) reacts to what happened. Getting past PTSD requires more than mental therapy and drugs. CHeck out the book by Peter Levine Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma and the website

    — Added by CynDPT on May 4th, 2010
  • Dawnsaul: Just to clarify, what I teach is that it’s not about managing the trauma symptoms it’s about releasing the charge from the nervous system so you can fully heal. This has nothing to do with thinking happy thoughts! Thinking happy thoughts if not combined with awareness of physical sensation isn’t that useful. When I said it’s not what happened, it’s because events that are traumatic for one person could be empowering to someone else. It all depends how the event is experienced by the nervous system, and what has come before. This approach should be done with someone who is trained in Somatics and can guide you through the process. I highly recommend the above mentioned book by Dr. Levine. (thank you CynDPT). Lastly, I never speak of anything from a clinical view. I speak from first hand experience with my own process and what I witness with my clients. I’m deeply sorry for your loss and the pain you’ve experienced. I wish you peace and helpful guidance on your healing journey.

    — Added by emyvee on September 2nd, 2010
  • [...] Read Van Horn’s entire article on this topic. September 16th, 2010 | Category: Blog [...]

    — Added by Trauma is Curable « Emily Van Horn on September 16th, 2010
  • [...] out of this. The trauma energy remains frozen and trapped. This article by Andrea Sea, as well as this one by Emily Van Horn explains this phenomenon [...]

    — Added by Waking the Tiger Part 2 - Shaking & Trembling | Perigee-Syzygy on November 4th, 2010

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