Resolving Trauma Successfully
The Good Life Therapy Centre offers on-site trauma therapy, individual therapy and couples counselling in Vancouver, Abbotsford & Langley, Canada. Our counsellors are very experienced and we have an excellent record of accomplishment in helping patients successfully deal with their personal issues. We believe in helping our patients find long-term solutions to their problems, assisting them in moving forward with their lives.
Our approach to trauma therapy is similar in concept to our other individual therapy services and our couples counselling. We take a holistic approach, which addresses the most common symptoms of unresolved trauma, including anxiety and depression. We utilize a model that addresses both the mind (thoughts and emotions related to trauma) and the body (helping you to discharge the accumulated stress caught in your nervous system).
The Two Trauma Categories
Shock Trauma Includes:
- Medical or dental procedures
- Automobile accidents
- Physical injury from falls or accidents
- Sexual abuse, assault or rape
- Experiences in combat or war zones
- Experiencing/witness of violence-physical and/or emotional
Developmental Trauma Includes:
- Trauma at birth
- Surgery or medical procedures in early childhood
- Neglect during childhood
- Abuse during childhood-physical or emotional
- Sexual assault during childhood
- Childhood in a family with addiction issues
- Bullying, discrimination or prejudice during childhood
It is not uncommon to be affected by both categories of trauma, and if you suffer from developmental trauma, then shock trauma can overwhelm you very quickly.
Brain Processes and Trauma Response
Humans are born with automatic responses to potential threats called instincts, much the same as almost every other animal on the planet. These reactions are most often known as the three F’s, or our fight/flight/freeze instincts. The general process of how we react to threats mentally and physically is outlined below.
Fight, Flight, and Freeze Process
- When you first sense a threat an internal alarm is triggered in your brain, which sends danger signals to your entire nervous system.
- When this occurs, senses become more heightened, muscle tension increases and your natural instinct is to identify the source of danger.
- The part of your brain that handles emotions picks up the signals of danger, which triggers fear. Once fear is triggered, breathing will quickly become shallower, energy will begin to build within your muscles and your heart rate will become elevated. All of this is a part of the natural preparation to fight or flee and happens automatically without a conscious effort. However, a person who becomes overwhelmed easily can freeze up due to the trauma and not be able to defend themselves.
- Finally, your ability to reason will come back into focus and your brain will begin to run through the problem solving process searching for solutions to the current situation.
The Good Life Therapy Centre offers trauma counselling services that target the behavioral (brainstem), emotional (limbic) and thinking (cortex) aspects involved with trauma. Other types of therapy often cannot completely resolve trauma issues because they do not address the entire issue on all levels.
Using our approach to trauma therapy helps patients make logical sense of their experiences, while still allowing the elevated levels of trauma energy to subside. This produces real change that lasts and provides a process that is less uncomfortable on an emotional and physical basis.
We conduct trauma therapy, individual therapy and couples counselling services in Vancouver, Canada at our home office. We have documented success in helping many patients overcome high levels of anxiety, frequent panic attacks and severe depression. Symptoms can vary among patients and you may experience a series of highs and lows in a sporadic pattern. These sporadic highs and lows can sometimes even lead to misdiagnosed psychiatric ailments.
Problems with processing the fight, flight and freeze responses is sometimes compared to a vehicle with the accelerator fully engaged, while also having the brakes fully engaged. Obviously, a vehicle would not hold up for very long under that amount stress and conflicting forces.
This is also true for the human body. Confusion and the inability to properly process traumatic situations cause extreme stress. If this continues for prolonged periods, eventually even the smallest amount of stress will become too difficult to handle. Common issues like being caught in heavy traffic or even small adjustments needed in your daily routine, will become overwhelming and the stress levels will feel severe.
You may be suffering from chronic trauma if you are experiencing:
- Decreased immunity functions such as extreme fatigue, chronic discomfort and pain or Crone’s disease
- Difficulty learning due to loss of memory, frequent confusion and feeling disconnected
- Unable to relax and feel calm, feeling overwhelming levels of anxiety that often lead to complete exhaustion
We can help you learn the necessary skills to deal with these feelings and release the elevated levels of anxiety.
You Can Overcome Trauma by Learning New Skills
You may need trauma therapy services if:
- You seem to repeat the same pattern of becoming involved with traumatic relationships and situations
- You feel exhausted and have a difficult time relaxing or getting rest
- You experience frequent periods of depression and have feelings of constant anxiety without any relief
- You use substances for self-medication and have dependency issues with alcohol, drugs, a shopping addiction, sexual addictions or other extreme behavior
- You experience constant pain, chronic exhaustion, insomnia or other physical issues as a result of difficulties with processing trauma
Two Cases in Point
A Residential School Survivor
When Sue was a graduate student she worked in an emergency ward of a busy downtown hospital. One evening she noticed a woman had been brought in and was waiting to be sent to the psychiatric ward. She had been sent to the Ward many times and was considered “crazy”, presenting with hallucinations about nuns who were chasing her. She was of First Nations ancestry and Sue went to speak with her about her “hallucinations”. She was in her early 60’s and was a chronic alcoholic and had been addicted to heroin most of her life. Sue approached her bedside and asked her if she was ever in a residential school. She said “Yes”. She then asked her if it had been run by nuns and again she answered, “Yes”. Sue then very matter-of-factly asked her, “What did they do to you?” She stared at her as though frozen in time. When she finally spoke she said that no one had ever asked her that question before. She hesitantly went on to tell Sue her story. She said that when she was 7 years old, she pulled on the chord of the nun’s dress and it came undone. The nun was furious and took her into a room, stripped her down, and made her soak a sheet in ice cold water and wrap herself in it. She then beat the little girl until she passed out. This horrific trauma at an early age set the stage for this woman’s lifelong struggle with alcohol and drugs and led to her chronic institutionalization and psychiatric medication. This woman was not “crazy”, nor was she hallucinating. She was ‘remembering’ her trauma. Had she been offered the opportunity to heal properly, she would not have shown up in the emergency ward that night, or the many nights before and after.
A Child War Survivor
When Sue worked as a Director of a northern community counselling centre, she was asked to see a woman in her late 50’s who had become increasingly “catatonic”. Her family were very concerned about how atypically she was withdrawing from all social contact and would not even speak any more. She came to see Sue with her husband, who initially spoke for her. Sue realized that they were Polish, and due to her own Polish heritage, she wondered about war trauma. Her first question to them was, “Where were you during WWII?” Again, she got the look of shock at asking the unspeakable. Sue continued to focus on what this woman had experienced as a young girl of 5-9 years of age, in Poland during the Nazi occupation. She slowly began to speak with Sue and tell her of the bodies that hung from the stairwells, bloody and dead. How she tried to cope with the responsibility of selling enough coffee each day so that her family could eat — at 6 years of age! She began to allow herself to grieve the loss of a childhood she never had and to walk through the horror of those events. As she did, she came out of her self-imposed seclusion and went on to reconnect with her husband, her two sons and her community. Her psychiatric medication was reduced and she left counselling, to live a new and normal life.
Trauma Counselling Will Help You to Feel More Complete and Whole
The good news is that this method of both helping you make sense of your experience while working out the stress caught in your body memory will “quench” the kindled nervous system. That means we slowly and effectively will reduce the amount of stress you are carrying inside and replace it with a sense of your own resiliency (inner strength). Let The Good Life Therapy Centre help you recover from your dis-ease and find inner peace.
I am constantly amazed at the profound positive impact that this approach has on the people we work with.
All Potential and Knowledge are within. By your willingness to follow simple direction with joyful curiosity you will be relieved of pain & discomfort of all kinds.