Trauma has become a bit of a buzzword in pop culture. Whether you’re watching a fun vlog on YouTube, a hilarious TikTok, or just interacting with friends and family in everyday life – using phrases to describe a tough day, a rude interaction, or a gaffe at work like ‘I’m so traumatized’ or ‘That was so traumatic!’ is pretty par for the course.
The difference between real trauma and a difficult event can be boiled down to how the event affects us, body and mind.
A difficult event may have lasting effects, but these can almost always be mitigated with proper self-care and time. A traumatic event may leave a lasting imprint on our bodies and can change how we approach the world around us – and distressing memories of this event can be triggered by certain smells, sounds, sights, and places that our bodies perceive as related to the event.
Trauma is a very real and serious issue, and if you’re seeking mental health services educated in trauma-informed therapy in Edmonton, it can be difficult to define what this means to ourselves and outline what we’re actually looking for.
In this piece, we’ll discuss why trauma-informed therapy is key for a safe and constructive healing regimen and outline some key benefits overall of attending trauma therapy.
The Public Health Agency of Canada defines trauma as “the experience of, and a response to, an overwhelmingly negative event or series of events, such as interpersonal violence, personal loss, war or natural disaster. In the context of violence, trauma can be acute (resulting from a single event) or complex (resulting from repeated experiences of interpersonal and/or systemic violence).”
Trauma can take many forms over many stages of life – from childhood trauma to relationship trauma. Whether you realize it or not, if you’ve been traumatized, it’s easy for the feelings of helplessness and anxiety to affect your life for many years after the event(s) that initially caused your trauma.
The nature of trauma may cause lasting emotional, physical, and mental side effects – which we will explore a little further on.
Understanding trauma-informed therapy:
When searching for trauma therapists in Edmonton, it’s important to source a practitioner knowledgeable in trauma-informed therapy.
Practitioners and clinics that operate by the principles of trauma-informed therapy work to validate the client experience, resist re-traumatization, and help give clients the tools they need to successfully heal.
In a nutshell, trauma-informed therapy will focus on the below principles:
- An understanding of the impact of trauma and violence on people’s behaviours and their lives as a whole.
- Knowledge of the symptoms of trauma in others.
- Firm establishment of a safe environment – emotionally and physically.
- A focus on creating treatment plans that provide plentiful opportunities for collaboration, and that focus on building coping skills and strength.
The primary focus of trauma therapy is to help heal the physiological and emotional effects of trauma on our minds and bodies. When integrated into therapy practices, these focus points help to limit the risk of retraumatization.
Some simple examples of the above points in action could be thorough note-taking upon client intake to ensure that any traumatic story they choose to share doesn’t have to be repeated, cultivating a quiet and relaxing waiting area, and speaking in a way that gives the patient equal ‘power’ in the conversation.
These principals also help inform care and treatment without actually needing to know the source of the trauma.
Common side effects of trauma:
- Alcohol and substance abuse.
- Avoiding places, smells, and people that pose a trigger risk.
- Isolating from friends and family; no interest in previously enjoyed hobbies.
- Lethargy, fatigue, and listlessness.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Disproportionate agitation or emotional responses
- Despair and hopelessness
- Extreme guilt
- Intrusive and/or obsessive thoughts
- Impulse control issues
- Body image issues
- Poor self-esteem
- Feelings of loss and abandonment
The Benefits of Trauma Therapy:
Not only can trauma therapy help identify triggers that may cause distressing memories to resurface, but, on a broader scale, it can help you identify how your trauma affects your life as a whole.
This discovery process helps lay the groundwork to identify your triggers and work through them, identify the general trauma symptoms you’re experiencing, give a name to your experience, and help you realize that you’re not alone.
Emotional Regulation and Coping Skills:
By becoming aware of your triggers (which could be certain smells, voices, an anniversary, certain holidays, or even a song or book), you can conceptualize that this is a physiological or emotional reaction to your trauma.
This awareness helps us to develop ways to cope when these triggers occur. Coping tools will help frame your experience and help regulate the severity of the trigger response.
Some coping tool examples might be breathing techniques, mindfulness exercises, physical activity, or ‘stream of consciousness’ writing exercises.
Through your work with a trauma-informed therapist in Edmonton, you’ll be able to start re-framing your traumatic experience and move forward with your life with the tools you need to process your trauma and help regulate any trigger responses.
Ikigai Integrative: Mind-Body Focus
In Edmonton, it’s difficult to find a provider that not only recognizes and understands the importance of the mind-body connection and trauma responses, but that has the proper credentials to provide treatment plans with this in mind.
Trauma therapy talk sessions are often combined with other modalities, like acupuncture. This is something that we specialize in here at Ikigali Integrative. Through physical and emotional intervention, we can create a custom plan based on your health history and concerns.
Our clients quickly learn that there’s no textbook approach here! Every human is different, and this is something we celebrate.