A Deep Dive Into Trauma & The Power of Trauma Therapy

The problem with trauma is that not only did it hurt you when it happened, but if left unresolved, it is still likely affecting you today. Even if you’ve done an excellent job of pushing it down, ignoring it or trying to make it the butt of your jokes – it’s still there, and at some point, it’s going to demand your attention.

As a trauma therapist, I hear three things consistently:

  • “I constantly feel on edge, like I’m waiting for the next disaster.”
  • “I want to move forward, but it’s like I’m stuck in my past.”
  • “I’m tired of talking about my trauma, but nothing seems to change.”

If this sounds like something you’ve said, you’re not alone. Research indicates that trauma can significantly impact your life if left unaddressed.

In this article, we take a deep dive into trauma and cover some of the telltale signs that you may benefit from trauma therapy.

What are the types of trauma?

Trauma isn’t one-size-fits-all; it comes in all shapes and sizes. What could seem like a ‘nothing-event’ to one person may be the very reason they are stuck in bad relationships, career choices, and life decisions. Trauma may be obvious, hidden, or repressed. In all cases, until it’s processed, it’s going to affect your mental and possibly physical health. The most common types of trauma include:

  • Physical Trauma: This encompasses injury or severe bodily harm.
  • Emotional/Psychological Trauma: This results from deeply distressing or disturbing experiences, often involving extreme stress or fear.
  • Developmental Trauma: This originates from chronic, repetitive stress or neglect in early childhood.
  • Secondary or Vicarious Trauma: This can occur when someone is repeatedly exposed to stories or images of traumatic events.

How does trauma show up?

A client came to me with a long list of issues that, to them, didn’t seem to have any relation to what was happening in their life right now.

  • They felt like they were forgetting why they walked into a room.
  • They were stumbling over words when speaking.
  • They said they had a foggy mind, making it difficult to focus.
  • They had restless sleep and found themselves lying awake with churning thoughts followed by frequent nightmares.
  • They started retreating from social situations and relationships and to cope
  • They started drinking more often than usual to escape their mounting anxiety.
  • They no longer enjoyed the things they once did and their perception of the world felt disconnected.

During our session, it became clear they had experienced a traumatic event at some point in their past. Although they didn’t initially come for trauma therapy, we quickly determined that their trauma was neatly folded away and locked up in the deepest corner of their memory. A period of their life that they described as short but filled with fear and helplessness. They thought time had healed their wounds, but here they were, experiencing physical and emotional pain and in desperate need of a way to move forward.

Trauma often shows up in our lives in ways we might not immediately recognize. It can cause a range of emotional, psychological, and even physical symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, difficulties in relationships, and chronic pain. Additionally, it can lead to substance abuse, self-harming behaviors, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Thus, although you may not be able to easily pinpoint the cause of what you’re experiencing, you may have deeply rooted trauma that would benefit from trauma therapy.

What is the cost of ignoring trauma?

When we don’t deal with trauma, it doesn’t simply disappear. Instead, it comes up when we least want it to—likely in times when you are already under pressure or feeling unsafe in your current environment. Unresolved trauma can cause persistent feelings of fear and helplessness, disrupt our ability to form healthy relationships, and even increase the risk of developing conditions like PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorders. It can impair your ability to live life the way you deserve to. Diving deep into your trauma and learning how to process it can allow you to regain a sense of normalcy.

Types Of Trauma Therapy

Various therapeutic modalities have been found to be beneficial for helping process and manage trauma. Commonly used trauma therapy techniques include:

  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT): This type of approach is an adapted version ofCognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and is used for children and adolescents. Both child and adult are involved in TF-CBT. There are multiple components of this approach including psychoeducation, relaxation, identifying and regulating emotions, identifying distorted thoughts, identifying and working through avoidance, and developing a plan to prevent or deal with future trauma.
  • Brainspotting: Brainspotting is a type of trauma therapy that works by helping you identify, process, and release neurophysiological sources of suffering. With Brainspotting, you do not have to deeply discuss traumatic experiences. Instead, the therapist tunes into eye movements to identify and work through traumatic experiences.
  • Clinical Hypnosis: This approach is also known as hypnotherapy and involves being guided into an extreme state of relaxation and focus as a way to gain access to subconscious thoughts and memories. Clinical hypnosis works in various ways including revisiting traumatic events, reframing trauma, working through dissociations, rebuilding skills and self-esteem that were impacted by trauma, and more.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is commonly used for trauma therapy. It works by using eye movements as a way to lessen the impact and emotional distress of traumatic memories. The therapist guides you through the traumatic moments in a controlled, safe setting and pairs these memories with positive associations.

There are many more techniques used as part of trauma therapy. You can read more about the different approaches used by therapists at the EMDR & Trauma Therapy Centre here. The therapist will assess your situation to determine which approach(es) may be most beneficial for you. For the rest of this article, we are going to dive further into EMDR therapy, as it’s been getting a lot of attention.

So, why is everyone talking about EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy has been getting a lot of attention. But why is it so popular right now? Is it just a trend, or is it the real deal?

EMDR is trendy, but its effectiveness is backed by science. One systematic review found EMDR to be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Unlike traditional talk therapy, which relies heavily on dissecting and discussing traumatic experiences, EMDR therapy involves an eight-phase treatment method that addresses unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain.

It has been found to work more quickly than talk therapy alone, which is a big reason why it has become so popular. It works quickly as it directly targets the memory networks associated with trauma. Instead of solely talking through the traumatic experience, EMDR therapy helps reprocess the trauma at a neurological level.
EMDR therapy is a powerful tool for working through trauma, offering hope to those who may have felt stuck in their behaviours, their outcomes, or their lives.

If you’re struggling with the lingering effects of trauma, it may be time to consider EMDR. Learn more about our EMDR therapy for trauma program here.

If you’re ready to start working through trauma, you can book a free consultation with one of our therapists here.

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About

The EMDR & Trauma Therapy Centre provides in-person therapy in Toronto and virtual therapy across Ontario. Specializing in EMDR and trauma therapy.