Everyone has experienced trauma. Trauma can be experienced as physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Research tells us that the physical kind is much easier to recover from than the other three types. We don’t constantly relive our physical trauma in the same way we do our mental, emotional, and spiritual traumas. Physical trauma does not have as much of a conditioning response on our future behavior either.
In addition to the four kinds of trauma, there is also TRAUMA and there is trauma. I call capital “T” trauma the kind you usually think about when you hear the word trauma: physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional and mental and spiritual neglect/abandonment, and undernourishment. This is the kind of trauma I studied in my 2013 Healing Un-Resolved Trauma (HURT) Study. I found that the initial wound along our developmental map created architectural changes in the brain, nervous system and our belief and behavior patterns. These belief and behavior patterns get hooked to the feeling/emotion and sympathetic nervous system response we had at initial wounding and then create a “button” that can be pushed throughout the entire lifetime of the one who experienced the hurt. This leads to illness, chronic disease, relationship problems, and habits of self-neglect, sometimes even early death.
It turns out, according to studies and brain scans, these same changes occur for people who experience trauma spelled with a lower case “t” too. These are experiences of betrayal, rejection, not feeling good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc. Yep…same changes in the brain: A growth in the reptilian center (especially the size of the right side of the amygdala) and shrinkage in the adult “executive function” center called the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until we are roughly 24-26 years of age. So, we revert to our child brain center when our trauma buttons are “pushed”.
When your trauma buttons are pushed your brain begins to function like a zebra who’s being chased by a lion and is afraid it’s about to be eaten. The way information is gathered narrows. The digestive system shuts down (not safe to stop and have a bowel movement with a lion on your tail). The hormones responsible for reproduction (ovaries and testes), cognitive ability, memory, and mood (brain neurotransmitters), blood sugar regulation (pancreas), your weight and temperature and hair and nail health (thyroid), your energy level and fluid regulation (adrenals), and immune system (thymus) are hijacked so your adrenals can take over and allow you to fight, flee, freeze, or faint in the face of this alleged lion. The cortisol that constantly gets kicked into the system to fight your perceived threats breaks down your gut wall and messes with the above systems I just mentioned. This leads to a leaky gut and eventually, you can wind up with autoimmunity and even cancer as a result.
A 2006 study by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) tells us that trauma affects the three important areas of your brain I listed above: the amygdala (your emotional and instinctual center), the hippocampus (your memory control center), and the prefrontal cortex (adult executive function that includes regulating your choices, impulses, and emotions). When your emotional and memory centers are hijacked when your trauma buttons are pushed, it’s difficult to tell that your response is from something in the past…because it’s felt as if it’s brand spanking new in the now. This can lead to a hypervigilant mind that is constantly scanning to make sure you’re safe.
A hypervigilant mind leads to a hypervigilant immune system…autoimmunity and cancer.
The good news is all of this can be changed, rewired, and healed. Your attachment wounding, beliefs, behaviors, and nervous system/emotional responses cannot be changed from the adult brain though. They must be healed in the child brain and a bridge built between the child and adult. This slowly but surely changes your patterns of response and snips the wires to your trauma buttons. It doesn’t happen overnight and cannot be done with a device. You must practice. You must be willing to engage with your whole self and integrate all your parts. You must be willing to forgive yourself, others, and life itself. This brings peace, happiness, and the knowingness that you are of worth no matter what you “do” or how you behave. You are a gift to this world.
When you are fed up with the way patterns of emotional response, behaviors, and physical health issues are showing up in your life you can get started on healing all of them. In my practice, we offer emotional healing packages where you work with me (or with your partner in couples work) 1:1. Therapies offered in packages include EMDR therapy, Brain Spotting, Somatic therapy, Attachment-Informed methods, Cognitive therapy, Internal Family Systems/Parts work, the Enneagram, MDMA Assisted psychotherapy, Human Design, and Expressive methods to help you experience relief and healing. Alternatively, you can begin by engaging in the online healing program called Healing Trauma Through the Chakra System from the comfort of your own home on your computer.
The bottom line is this kind of work requires an integrative approach. In other words, it’s not enough to just talk about your emotional hurts, you also need to repair the damage to your gut, immune system, hormones, and brain. Our packages are integrative and all-inclusive…seeing you as a whole person as you are.