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Trauma. It can get complex

Did you know that around 70% of us will experience a traumatic incidence at some stage in our lives? There are many different experiences of trauma, each unique to each individual. The incident can stem from our natural world, other people, accidents, medical events and more. The trauma might happen once, or some people experience more than one traumatic incident in their lives.

So what is trauma? Trauma is our emotional experience in response to an event. That is to say, it's not what happened, it is how we respond to it. When we have gone through a traumatic experience, our brains first job is to try to make sense of it. It might juggle the information around a bit, relive it, go through the details. Or it might try to blank it out, bringing about a loss of memory for the events and maybe the time before and after it. This is our brain is trying it's best to understand and process the information. In some cases, this is successful, and after a period of time, the person can integrate the information and hold the memories without them feeling overwhelming.

For others, this emotional response to an event, or events, can get stuck. Memories of the event can seem overwhelming, bringing about emotional responses which can be triggered in a way that might feel uncontrollable. This can impact the person's wellbeing and functioning, their relationships with other people, their ability to do things they enjoy or bring positivity to their lives. They may start doing things that feel like they get rid of these unwanted thoughts and feelings in the short term - things like avoiding people or places, drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, eating too much - but that in the long term don't actually fix the pain and can bring about their own problems.

When this happens, it can feel very lonely and scary. But for people with trauma symptoms, therapy can and does help. We can move beyond the block, and process those memories so they remain where they belong - in the past - rather than impacting on our present and our future. In therapy, we might talk about what happened, or maybe we wont, if that doesn't feel okay. We might talk about how someone is feeling now, what they do to cope, what helps, and what doesn't. Or maybe we wont, if that doesn't feel okay. Therapy is designed to be a space the client feels in control of, in which they feel safe, heard and respected, and are able to collaboratively navigate a path forward towards their goals.

Carolyn Spring is someone who talks with great passion about the impact of trauma in a persons life, and what recovery can look like. Below is the link to her podcast. I find her so inspiring, what do you think?

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