Healing From Trauma
Healing is the process of the restoration of health from an unbalanced, diseased, and damaged system.
Trauma makes the system to lose balance, it creates “dis-ease” since it creates despair and distress, and it damages the system because it alters its regular functioning.
Therefore, healing from trauma needs to:
Recover balance: the homeostasis gets lost in traumatized organisms, which means that the equilibrium between interdependent elements maintained by physiological processes stops. It needs to be reestablished. When that happens, the body starts to work better and the person experiences more normal responses to the environment, to food, to sleep, to all the regular activities that were modified. People have better digestion, better sleep, feels less cold or less hot, will recover sensations, pleasure and sensitivity, etc.
Remove disease: the alterations after the traumatization have a big impact on mood and creates a regular sense of despair and uneasiness. When the person starts healing from trauma, the mood improves, there is more satisfaction, less fear, more calmness, better tolerance, more awareness, less worry, and life seems easier to be lived.
Repair the damage by reversing the alterations: trauma makes real damage to the functioning of the autonomic nervous system which manifests as problems in every aspect of behavior, perception, and function. By regulating the nervous system, the alterations could reversed and go into what a normal system should work like. That creates space for betterment in every aspect. People have a better capacity to think, to feel, to decide, to control impulses, to react, to assess, to learn, to be present, and to experience joy.
The other way to see the healing of trauma is considering how the some of the previous alterations look like after. Worth mentioning is that one of the reasons we develop mental disorders like depression or trauma, is the loss of hope. Therefore, you need hope in order to heal. That's very significant for your brain to start reprograming its functioning.
I believe in the self-healing capacities of our brain, and I believe that with the right treatment and determination, people can heal from trauma, and be pain-free.
Trauma means that your body suffered from a series of alterations that can cause damage in several of your processes, parts of your body, functions, and behavior. Some of that damage can be permanent, and in that way, you may say that the trauma never goes away. But many of those alterations can be reversed, and therefore, the worst part of the trauma can be cured.
I’ll mention some of the damages and how they can be reversed:
Memories: They are stored in your brain with a negative charge that is designed to be a reminder of the fact that you considered the situation you went through, dangerous. Maybe the memories will remain “forever” but the negative charge can be removed, and therefore, the pain that the memories originally carried will stop. EMDR, IFS, SMP, AEDP, are good modalities to work on the pain of the memories.
Anger: if the dysregulation of your nervous system got stuck in the fight mode (hyperarousal), you will be experiencing anger and aggression as one of the most painful consequences of trauma. Anger, or all the other reactivity like the startle, irritability, sleep problems, panic, sleep disturbances, and mood problems, etc., can decrease and stop being debilitating once you learn how to regulate your nervous system, and increase your window of tolerance (if you want to learn about that, you can read this answer: How could you describe the “window of tolerance”?). CBT, mindfulness, IFS, NFB, BFB, or many top-down and bottom-up modalities for regulation offer good solutions.
Dissociation: That’s a symptom of hypoarousal. To have gotten the parasympathetic nervous system activated for prolonged periods of time causes more damage than the hyperarousal. Still, with regulation techniques, you can recover the speed and the fragmentation that the trauma caused almost entirely. I use neuromodulation in several ways and Neurofeedback to accelerate the process when the person is in great distress. Technology is catching up and offering more hope every day.
Personality: this is the part that becomes more difficult to treat.
If there is no Self, there may not be a way to put your “soul” into the healing process.
The distorted perception is also challenging to correct, but it is possible. I’ve seen it many times, where the client has aha moments and starts seeing things differently.
The interpersonal dynamics could have become very vicious and it is difficult to convince someone that has to learn to survive in a certain way, to let go of the survival defenses and “skills.” But when someone suffers from aloness acutely, they will work on getting better to be able to have stable relationships.
This part can be treated with interventions that help you develop resilience and rewrite your story like: attachment interventions, AEDP, mindfulness, Narrative therapy, Schema therapy, DBT, NFB, hypnosis, mindfulness, and many others.
As you can see, there are many different areas that need to be treated when you deal with trauma. That’s why it takes time and effort, but with determination and good support (like a caring therapist), you could stop the repercussions of trauma and start living in the present instead of continuing stuck in the past.