Most of us experience a traumatic incidence(s) at one or more points (s) in our lives. Most of us can relieve trauma symptoms affecting our lives by processing our thoughts and memories within a few weeks after the incident. Estimates suggest that up to 20% of people may go on to develop trauma symptoms, usually diagnosed as PTSD. On those occasions, the traumatic event overwhelms the ‘memory Processing’ system, and things get stuck. Fragments of the traumatic memory get ‘frozen’ or ‘locked’ in our system, remaining unintegrated—recurrent reactivation of these fragments, usually by sensory triggers ‘re-experiencing’ and distress. Trauma can be defined as an unresolved emotional experience, leaving the individual in reactive mechanisms (Fight, flight, freeze, flop, friend) activated.
Common trauma symptoms: Flashbacks, nightmares, disturbing imagery, hypervigilance, high sense of feeling threatened, avoiding triggers, anxiety and depression, relationship problems (personal or at work), lack of enjoyment in life, fear or hopelessness for the future.
We know that memory encoding plays a role in developing psychological trauma. Three areas of the brain are involved in processing and storing memory. Amygdala: the part of the brain that alerts us to possible danger and triggers the stress response. Hippocampus: This part gives an event context and codes it in a form that can be stored as a memory. Prefrontal cortex: this is where the memories are stored. The information from specific memories coded in the hippocampus can be transferred to the frontal cortex as general knowledge. The interactions between these three parts are crucial in determining the ‘stability’ of memory. In most cases in which the trauma is over, the traumatic material is usually processed within these three parts of interactions over the subsequent few days or weeks.
In PTSD, this processing does not take place. The traumatic memory can create appropriate information. This results in the generation of inappropriate fear, usually in response to sensory/memory triggers; after the traumatic event, the individual feels as if they are experiencing the event again.
Samy offers a trauma-focused treatment which tailors trauma therapy to meet your needs. He combines top-down (cognitive approach- by talking) or/and bottom-up (somatic focus- allowing the body to engage in the process) methods. A full assessment is usually undertaken, and then, in discussion with you, a trauma treatment plan is developed for further sessions.
Samy follows a three-phase model (Stabilisation, processing and reintegration) in providing his therapeutic procedure.
1. Stabilisation techniques help to advance the management of emotional distress, giving a better sense of control and steadiness. You may be encouraged to be aware of your emotional state and to learn more significant control over the out-of-control trauma symptoms such as flashbacks, panic attacks, or dissociation. Stabilisation methods can include relaxation and breathing techniques to reduce sensations of anxiety or panic. Mindfulness techniques can help to reunite the mind and body and to regain emotional regulation.
2. Trauma processing is the second phase, which emphasises the process of traumatic memories tolerably and files them away so they aren’t interfering with the quality of your life. Trauma therapy usually involves learning tips and techniques to manage the disturbing mind-body effects of trauma.
Samy uses a variety of trauma treatment approaches. One helpful technique is imagery rescripting for processing flashbacks or nightmares and cognitive systems to restructure memories and beliefs.TF-CBT (Trauma Focus- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) enables you to engage cognitively and stay in the present. Consequently, this helps you develop an alternative vision of events so that the ability and freedom of choice are activated. EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) as a body-based technique is helpful when the embodied sensations or imagery of the trauma persist in the present. And the client finds it hard to access the memories cognitively fully.
3. Reclamation and reintegration. The third phase of trauma therapy involves making sense of the past in a way that enables you to move forward with restored certainty, confidence and positivity about yourself and the world.
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