Trauma and trauma counselling is tricky. Usually counselling asks people to recount their past or the situation that bothers them so that they can speak out a narrative and put words to feelings. Not so with trauma. Not so with trauma counselling.
Reliving the trauma narrative re-traumatises the person as they cannot get into a safe zone to explore the trauma. Disassociation is a powerful state used to protect the psyche from more damage. It cuts off the trauma from the rest of the psyche so that the person can function. Clever.
To put it another way think of the brain in two parts: back and front. The back brain is the primitive survival brain. The front brain is the more rational sophisticated brain. The traumatised person lives in the back brain. Always under threat, and constantly scanning for danger. Jumpy, over sensitised, alert, and reactive.
The front brain is calmer, problem solving, looking for reasons and explanations.
So somebody approaches the traumatised person in the street. The traumatised person relies on the back brain and sees the approach as a threat. Are they hostile? Is the person going to harm me? Their intent is malicious. So the traumatised person reacts violently. Screams, submits, runs away, or attacks.
The front brain sizes up the approach. What is the expression on the person’s face? What is their body language? What is their intention? If the person can find a balance between back and front brain then they can work out the situation in a more considered manner.
How can this be done? Basically and to oversimplify it is all in the NOTICING.
Generally we are taught to notice externally with no emphasis on the internal. Our feelings, our thoughts, the way our bodies to react to stress and trauma goes unnoticed. When we do notice we make a judgement.
So to notice without judgement is the key. Easier said than done. Trauma counselling can enable non judgemental noticing.
Mindfulness is the latest method of non judgemental noticing. To notice how we are and how we react to the world leads us to learn more about who we are.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2016
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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique