Psychotherapist Specialized in Prevention and Treatment of Trauma
What is a trauma?
Trauma can be understood from two perspectives, the first as an event or a series of events that left wounds in the brain and that have negative consequences in the development of a person's life.
The second perspective is like a situation lived in the past or that continues to be lived in the present and that was perceived as a threat and that has modified the person's life.
Throughout life, all human beings will be exposed on one or many more occasions to circumstances that can cause trauma, however, not in all cases life experiences will be assumed as trauma by all people.
When suffering a trauma, the person loses their ability to perceive themselves in a safe and confident way, so they have reactions that range from fighting, to freezing or fleeing in the face of circumstances that they perceive threatening and that can be real or imagined. In this way, the person disconnects from many relationships and circumstances because they feel anxious, insecure, afraid, or simply unable to adjust in the same way that they could before the trauma.
There are several types of trauma:
ASD: Acute stress trauma, which is related to a single event. Example: a car accident.
PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is related to a single event, -or many sequential events, related or not to each other-, and with an exposure to circumstances that continue to be stressful or threatening, that is, there was a single event after of which the person did not experience a security period that allowed him to process what happened. In this disorder, symptoms persist for at least three months after the traumatic event.
Complex or relational trauma: It is related to events that have not been processed by the person and that extend over time, without experiencing periods of safety. Example: domestic violence.
Developmental trauma: It is related to the suffering of a child during his growth
ED or DID: extreme trauma or dissociative identity disorder, which is related to multiple traumatic events that the person has not processed and that prevent them from leading a normal life without feeling constantly threatened.
How is a trauma formed?
Trauma in its different types has diverse and multifactorial origins, that is, there may be one or many causes associated with trauma and it is very difficult to ensure that a person who suffers trauma has developed it due to a single isolated event, since the complexity of life and human relationships, favor that human beings have experiences that can be perceived in a huge range of possibilities.
In her article entitled Comprehensive Approach to the Complex Trauma Clinic, by psychologists Isabel Nieto Martínez and María Concepción López Casares, the trauma is explained as follows:
According to various authors, Leuzinger – Bohleber (2015), Frewen and Lanius (2015), Shapiro (2010), Howe (2005), Fonagy, Gergely, Jurist and Target (2004), Herman (2004), Bateman and Fonagy (2004; 2006) Allen (1995), traumatization can be generated in many different life situations, both in childhood and in adulthood. It can have various origins: come from early separation trauma situations; loss of primary objects; situations of neglect by primary caregivers; gender violence; being a witness or suffering psychological abuse in daily coexistence; live long exiles or migrations due to poverty or war conflicts; political persecution and other cases that we come across in the clinic that meet the criteria of insidious destruction of complex trauma. Also due to the accumulation of microaggressions, sometimes without the will to harm, which, being continuous, generate traumatization.
How to know if a trauma has been overcome?
There are traumatic events in life that you remember clearly, such as a flood, an earthquake, a duel, a kidnapping, a rape, but sometimes the memories of the events have been blocked in the memory and the person then, You do not understand the reason for your symptoms because you do not remember clearly, perhaps because the trauma happened in early childhood or because it was so disturbing that the brain stored it in an area that the person does not have access to.
Symptoms are those emotions, thoughts and behaviors that manifest the trauma and that each person experiences in a particular way. Among the most common symptoms are:
Feeling anxious for no apparent reason
Being afraid and constantly on the alert
Constantly feeling sad and listless, or having been diagnosed with dysthymia or severe depression.
Loss of speech with no apparent physiological causes.
Isolating yourself and not seeking help because you feel hopeless
React violently or aggressively to everyday life situations
Difficulty establishing relationships with other people
Suffering from headaches, stomach, chest or body for no physiological reasons
Having constant nightmares, not being able to sleep, or sleeping excessively
Having invasive thoughts related to one or more traumatic events
Not being able to carry out activities of daily life because emotions or thoughts do not allow it
In general terms, trauma prevents a person from “feeling good”, “being at peace”, and activates a state of alarm that seems to not give way despite changing activities, thinking about something else or “getting it over with” life .
Many times traumatic events happened a long time ago, but the person continues to suffer because of that as if something serious had happened recently, this causes feeling misunderstood and isolated, as well as not being able to speak about what it feels for fear of being judged.
What is Psychotraumatology?
This discipline is in charge of studying the way in which traumas lodge in the brain and produce emotions, thoughts and behaviors, as well as designing interventions based on understanding brain functioning, taking into account the integration of the resources available to the person, for their healing.
Through therapies scientifically proven, documented and professionally researched by psychotherapists trained and updated in EMDR, (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), IFS (Internal Family Systems), Brainspotting , the practice of mindfulness and body awareness, the The therapist and the client walk a path towards health and the development of new habits that will allow the person to become stronger, learn and have a life of lasting well-being.
EMDR is a therapy whose methodology, developed by Francine Shapiro, has been tested in patients with complex trauma, severe trauma, and survivors of natural disasters and wars, attending not only to their healing, but also to their integration into a healthy life. This form of therapy includes eight phases between which bilateral stimulation of the brain is used through eye movements and / or tapping, for the reprocessing of traumatic events.
IFS is a form of therapy developed by Richard Schwartz, which integrates the parts of the personality, accepting that each person has protective, sensitive and defensive fragments, which act depending on the impact of the trauma and help survival and adaptation to circumstances.
Brainspotting is a contemporary form of therapy that, like EMDR, uses eye movement to reprocess trauma, facilitating the restructuring of thought and the creation of new habits and behavior patterns, by stimulating the cerebral hemispheres and affected areas. from the trauma.
What are the goals of trauma-focused therapy?
When a trauma is suffered, the brain is affected in different areas, the therapist, through the exploration of the person's symptoms, explores the brain activation and designs interventions that will allow to address the existing disturbance, as well as the symptoms.
A therapist focused on trauma will avoid making judgments about the person or their circumstances, will accompany in an empathic and compassionate way, will develop an active listening without interpretations, keeping in mind the following as objectives to work in therapy:
Accompany the consultant in the development of tools that allow them to regulate their emotions and reduce the disturbance caused by traumatic events.
Develop a safe space in the therapeutic alliance, in which the client becomes aware of their own resilience.
Involve the person in their own healing, making the client the main promoter of their own improvement, at their own pace and according to their own development.
Make them aware of their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational and contextual resources, with the aim of obtaining empowerment and improving their self-esteem.
Reprocess traumatic events and resignify them, building with them learning that will allow them to develop new habits.
Restructure your way of thinking about what happened, about yourself and about others, in a healthy and safe way.
Build relationships and spaces for yourself in which you can develop your psychological and emotional capacities and resources.
In the first therapy session, we will share the space, you will answer some questions about the reasons why you want to start a process, as well as about the symptoms that you have developed and that prevent you from feeling well. Little by little we will get to know each other and build a therapeutic bond in which the goal to seek is your recovery. We will both work hand in hand to find those parts of your personality that have protected your functioning and have allowed you to seek help, we will know your strengths, capacities, resources, so that at your own pace we can know your protective parts and your sensitive parts.
In the development of the therapeutic process you will explore those events, people and circumstances that have caused your symptoms and you will become aware of your regulatory figures, your healthy anchors and your resilience.
Each session lasts approximately one hour and there is one session per week, however between sessions you can continue working with those tools that you learn and explore in therapy, remember that each person is different and each one of us has a different rhythm, of in such a way that each process is unique and has a different duration.
I invite you to make an appointment and to experience a process of change in which you leave behind the blocks, ties and destructive emotions. It gives way to growth, inner peace, the joy of living and finally feeling yourself
How are Expressive Arts Therapy or Art Therapy related to Trauma?
Expressive arts such as painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, dance, theater, narrative and play have in common the creative process and movement in the development of each person's creativity. By integrating the arts into the therapeutic process, the different areas of the brain are also integrated, from those that are in charge of psychomotor skills, speech and impulse reactions, to those that manage emotions and, of course, those that house knowledge. learning and decision making.
In a therapeutic process focused on trauma, the therapist will integrate interventions that include body awareness, breathing, the development of mindfulness or mindfulness, promoting "being present", as well as the knowledge and exploration of the person and their capacities to compassion, creativity, clarity, curiosity, courage, courage, calm and confidence.
The development of a therapeutic process that integrates art is noticeably delicate for a person whose condition prevents verbalization, or who, when speaking, feels painful experiences again and therefore is afraid of being retraumatized.
In this way, the use of different materials, colors, shapes, textures, as well as games, stories, metaphor and different creative resources, will be very useful in healing and in raising awareness in the process, as explained. Dr. Cathy Malchiodi, Expert and Renowned Expressive Arts Therapist:
"Neurobiology has taught us that we have to 'come to our senses' to develop effective components to address trauma. Expressive arts therapy unlocks the potential of the senses to “tell the story” of traumatic experiences through implicit and non-verbal forms of communication.
The expressive arts help people discover which forms of expression they self-regulate, communicate their experiences in restorative ways, imagine restorative narratives, and ultimately support recovery.
The expressive arts have a unique role in restoring a sense of vitality and joy in traumatized people because vitality is not something we can convince ourselves of. Instead, it is experienced in both mind and body and particularly at a somatosensory level . "
Herman, J. (1992). A healing relationship. in Trauma and recovery. J. Herman, Trauma and recovery Glenview, IL: Basic Books (Harper Collins), 133-155
Nieto, MI, López, MC, (1996) Comprehensive Approach to the Complex Trauma Clinic. Official College of Psychologists of Madrid. Contemporary Clinic. Vol. 7, nº 2, 2016 - Pages. 87-104. ISSN: 1989-9912 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5093/cc2016a7