Trauma occurs in many different forms from sexual abuse/assault, physical abuse/assault, emotional abuse and neglect, birth trauma, to witnessing and being a victim of acts that are distressing psychologically. When one experiences a traumatic incident they are usually in a crisis and the behaviors that follow can seem abnormal to other people. Often as time goes by the body will begin to respond to the traumatic experience as well (The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van Der Kolk MD is a good book to read to understand this concept).
In the past, clients that I have treated who have been victims of sexual abuse and physical abuse often talk about both physical and emotional symptoms for example high blood pressure and recurring nightmares or headaches and anxiety. This is very common. The body does keep the score.
In treating trauma it is very important to first help the client with building self compassion, empowerment, setting clear boundaries for self and developing safety as well as identifying supportive, healthy relationships. No matter the theory or approach used to treat trauma safety has to be established in order for one to trust the process and work on their recovery.
So here’s just a few tips on helping to get into a safe place when symptoms of trauma become overwhelming
- Do some breathing work and focus on your breaths. You want to breathe in to fill the lungs and breathe out to empty the lungs while focusing on your breath.
- Close your eyes and visually imagine a safe place. My safe place is being near water. I would close my eyes and imagine myself near flowing water (while working on my breath work)
- Self talk use self talk to help you deescalte your symptoms (rapid beating heart, hypervigilance, running thoughts, etc) and get into your safe place. You’ll remind yourself that you’re going to your safe place or to slow down your heart beat or to being yourself into the present.
- Call your supports. Sometimes hearing a nice familiar voice of someone that can soothe you back to safety can be a great idea. When I’m Recovery or going thorough emotional healing building a support system is very important.
- Seek a professional. Therapy is a great place to learn how to manage intrusive thoughts and other symptoms of PTSD when self care is not enough.
Dealing with trauma and trauma related symptoms can be distressful and challenging but know that you can get through it. You can seek your safe place.
If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma and the trauma related symptoms please seek help. If you live in NC and would like to make an appointment to see me please call me at 910-434-5325 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.