Alleviating the Effects of Physical and Emotional Trauma
Stress and trauma are physiological and psychological states of tension into which the human body is placed as a response to a stressful or threatening situation. This can be the result of physical injury, accidents, surgeries, physical, sexual or emotional abuse or assault, childhood trauma, or dysfunctional and traumatic family behavior. Stress is not all bad—up to a point, it can increase performance and functioning. However, past that point, stress becomes a detriment to effectiveness, relationships and psycho-physical well being. Trauma is always detrimental. Stress and trauma reside in the body—the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) to be more precise. Though stress and trauma affect and are affected by thoughts, they are fundamentally a reaction that takes place within the body. For my free E-Report detailing the ways that stress and trauma show up in our bodies and emotions, see “The Warning Signs of Stress and Trauma.”
The Bad News about Stress and Trauma
Recent neuroscience research has revealed that stress and trauma can be cumulative—getting locked in the human nervous system and actually piling up over time. Even years after a stressful or traumatic event has passed, our body can remain in a state of chronic tension. An average person may have anywhere from a few to many such events locked in their nervous system. This can lead to difficulty concentrating, irritability, insomnia, and a number of other symptoms of emotional pain. The overall effect of carrying around accumulated stress or trauma is a decreased ability to deal with current life events and difficulty experiencing ease, satisfaction and joy in the world or through relationships.
Stress/Trauma Management versus Resolution
Typically, we attempt to manage stress and trauma—for example, through exercise, sex, smoking, drinking and certain kinds of meditation. Although these activities can shift us temporarily into a relaxed state, they do not ultimately resolve the underlying condition. The ability to manage stress is completely different than the ability to resolve stress; it is not actually a stress and trauma therapy.
The methods I use help resolve stress and trauma by moving them through and out of the nervous system. Through a series of sessions, we work through specific events or family relationship patterns that are locked in your nervous system and affecting your emotional and relational health.
Groups and Organizations Can Also Experience Trauma
Frequently, health care professionals, who work with people who have experienced stress or trauma, absorb the stress/trauma from their clients and themselves experience symptoms of stress and trauma–chronic fatigue, dizziness, emotional numbness, easily triggered to be angry at injustice, depressed sadness or depression, increased anxiety, etc. This is called “vicarious trauma”. There are ways to alleviate it, in similar ways to working with direct stress and trauma. For more detail, see my blog post on Vicarious Trauma.
Examples of EFT’s effectiveness with trauma:
A client had been sexually assaulted by her boyfriend several years ago. Whenever she began to talk about this painful event to people, she became dizzy and spacey and very upset and teary. So she rarely talked about it. These are signs of trauma and stress. We worked on the event and it was totally cleared up in one session. She had never been able to talk about it without the above symptoms of trauma and stress. After our work, she could remember the event, but the pain was completely taken out of it. In addition, her sexual relationship with her husband dramatically.
A client was kept hostage in her car at gunpoint for over three hours. Among other symptoms of PTSD, she had severe anxiety symptoms whenever she thought about any part of the event, had difficulty sleeping and riding as a passenger in a car, couldn’t concentrate at work, experienced serious self-doubt . The symptoms were alleviated in two one-hour sessions.
“I was recommended by my doctor to Zoe Zimmermann after I was diagnosed with PTSD following a horrible experience with a dental procedure. I was having panic attacks and needed to speak with a trauma therapist. I reluctantly went to see Zoe, found that after meeting with her every week, it really was helping me.
She not only helped me work through my anxiety in her office, but used different approaches to how I can help myself through a panic attack if I had one. She even came to my aid when I was rear-ended on my way to her office and we had a session in the back seat of my car. As of today, I haven’t had a panic attack since March.
And I feel like I am past the trauma that I experienced. Although, if I feel like I am experiencing any form of anxiety or panic which I am unable to get through, I know I can always call Zoe. I would recommend her to anyone who needs help.”
Contact Zoe Zimmermann, MA, LPC, Certified EFT Practitioner
Office Address: 75 Manhattan Dr., Suite 206, Boulder, CO 80303
Ph: 303-444-1195 E: email@example.com
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