The recovery path
trauma response has been described as a set of learnt behaviours. During childhood: the brain is still developing its neural pathways and this may have additional impact on recovery.
Recently I have read professor van der kolk describing childhood trauma experiences through dysfunctional parenting or family systems and of which should be held within a separate trauma "disorder" category. If this were to be the case however; the DSM would literally half. It is thought that many mental illnesses originate from early childhood trauma such as; borderline, ADHD, eating disorders, OCD, generalized anxiety and depression. This would have great implications for recovery but would also make trauma disorders one of the most common mental illness in the UK and beyond.
Trauma is this viewed as being environmental in nature, with no genetic factor. As a mother, I worried that I would 'pass on' my complex trauma to my daughter when I was pregnant. However as it is not genetic, the only way trauma would be carried on (generational trauma) would be through external stimulus making for a stressful pregnancy. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170529090530.htm)
As a disorder is caused by; a lack of nurture (developmental trauma), trauma occurring from interpersonal relationships (c-ptsd) or witnessing trauma and being involved in a one-off trauma event (ptsd).
In order to heal from trauma we need a multi-level approach which heals our selves and how we approach relationships as well as heals our body.
If trauma is a learned process, then it can ultimately be unlearned (Walker, 2013), however at some level: if the traumatic experience has been too complex - it may take a long time for us to trust another nevermind our own mind. Walker does suggest alternative healing methods through animals, music art and online therapy if the trauma we endured feels at this moment too hard to bear.
Recovery is a long path of Endurance and courage: with many turns over many landscapes and through multiple climates. It isn't straightforward to say the least, the journey of recovery (not to) can bend back only to make it seem longer. We all know the more we drive a road in a car or route as a passenger, that we remember it. It makes recovery seem a little less scary if we view it in the same respect.
Recovery from trauma requires a multidimensional approach. As the body and mind are connected, we must not only heal our approaches to relationships and our mind, but we also need to release the tension that is built and stored within our bodies.
'Mind' state that one in 6 people in England report experiencing a common mental health problem that could be caused by childhood developmental trauma (and is actually undiagnosed).
Currently rates of mental illness in the UK are:
Mixed anxiety and depression 8:100
Generalized anxiety 6:100
Borderline personality disorder 2:100
can we take a minute to internalize how huge including an additional developmental disorder would be on the statistics?!
Matthew and skuse (2014) built the trauma recovery model (see unit 3) on the notion that recovering from trauma is multilevel. It follows from Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (1943) which shows basic safety and physiological needs are required to be met before healthy psychological growth. Therefore, if you are not meeting these basic needs; adequate sleep, food, hygiene and education etc progression on to the next level of Recovery will not be fully possible. The first level described by Matthew and Skuse are all attained by achieving enough respect for your body and mind that you have a healthy level of self-care. Realising when you're mind needs rest and recovery but also when your body does too.
As we develop along the path we begin to trust people and form relationships. Challenges of boundaries and openness can be explored with adequate support, as can adding safer coping mechanisms to our toolbox.
Matthew and Skuse state that is this trust in addition to meeting one's own basic needs; that it becomes possible to really look at our personal trauma in more detail. This allows for more personal issues to arise that are unique to the individual and trauma. I believe, as adults we can have an understanding of our own trauma, even if we haven't an adequate level of self-care or met all of our basic needs. We only need to look at eating disorders to argue that.
With trauma, the main goal is to attain some level of control and stability within our minds and release pent-up tension held within our bodies.
Revisiting memories in the form of EMDR has been debated. Do we really need to experience every trauma event all over again to feel safe, or can we attain that control and safety through other means? Imagine how freeing it would be, if we could enter treatment in the safety that it is trauma informed, that we don't have to go back there instead focus on here and gain strength through self-reflection and coping (Herman, 1992).
For Hermann's model of trauma informed therapy please see unit 3 in the group.
From the research that I have come across today, we can see that freeing ourselves from the past as possible in some cases of trauma, for other complex cases and developmental cases: gaining the tools to feel in control, stable and willing to reconnect; will give us the best possible chance at living a life free from the constraints of overwhelming trauma. The waves will still come, but through trauma informed therapy and bodywork (tapping, TRE, yoga, pilates, meditation and even art) we can gain a raft and a paddle to begin to navigate our own boat to safer waters.