Traumas can be big ruptures in our lives, like car accidents or an attack – but they can also be any small or big pattern that breaks the sense of “okayness” in ourselves or our world. This is true of a lot of negative imprinting from childhood, such as growing up in a volatile household. We refer to it as trauma when the incident or issue has left an ongoing imprint on you that you can’t control, whether that be emotional reactivity, over-reacting to certain situations, stuck ways of relating or anxiety or depression.
Classic talk therapy can help you understand your trauma and give you tools on how to handle situations more effectively but it is less effective for resolving the traumatic imprint. By resolving, I mean reducing the automatic nervous system response that has us shutting down, going into a rage, being depressed, having a panic attack or any of the other strategies that your nervous system will develop in response to certain cues in your environment. Effective ways of working with trauma, whether it be acute trauma from a particular incident or developmental trauma from living in toxic household, need to include working through the body since that’s where trauma is stored. Your cells are literally holding onto that traumatic experience. We address trauma through a range of approaches: mindfulness and tracking of sensation, working with breath, working with stuck patterns in the body, physical movements or exercises, and EMDR. See the sections on somatic therapy and EMDR for more info about those things.