Many therapists believe that it is always a good idea to “talk about” the traumatic event that happened to you. And while it is true that through telling our stories we may be able to derive meaning, support, and understanding, trauma is not just a story that happened a long time ago. Many individuals who have experienced trauma come to Oasis and tell us that they feel “stuck.”
In other words, their trauma may have occurred in the past, but it is relived in the present over and over again through intense, overwhelming emotions such as rage, anxiety, and sadness; physical sensations that accompany those emotions; intrusive memories or nightmares; or quite the opposite: feeling completely numb and disconnected from the self. Given this re-living of the past, just “talking about” trauma in therapy actually may not improve the situation, but may inadvertently make it worse.
At Oasis, our trauma-informed therapists first focus on helping you cope with the emotions and sensations that occur in the present moment. We help you connect logic and reason with emotions and physical sensations so that you can make sense of what is going on for you. We build a bridge between body and mind, so that you can become fully informed about what is important to you, what your needs and wants are, what you like and dislike, and in doing so, who you are as a person. Restoring this balance will help you feel in control of your own actions. Instead of being reactive, overwhelmed, or disorganized, we help you take charge of your own responses.
Once we know you have the tools to manage your (stress) response, we will help you integrate your trauma memory with your autobiographical memory (historical events that happened over the course of your life). We make sure that while we access the past traumatic material in therapy, you will feel safe and in control in the present moment. We use several interventions to help you do this, all of them scientifically proven to be effective treatments for trauma. One of these treatments is called EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (please click here for an explanation of this treatment approach).
At this time you may start to recognize that the trauma belongs to the past, that it no longer defines who you are, and that you can remember the event without being overwhelmed by it. In other words, we will help you get “un-stuck.”
Throughout the entire therapy process we work closely together with you so that you can reach the goals you have set for yourself. We also often collaborate with other providers (for example prescribing physicians) to ensure you experience the best possible outcome.
Trauma is a difficult term to define. Many people think of The Worst Possible Scenario (like wars, disasters, and death) when they hear the word “trauma.” Others think of physical ailments, as in “extensive trauma after a car accident.” In mental health, and at Oasis specifically, we define trauma as:
“Any event that changes the way we feel about ourselves, others, our future,
or our sense of power, control and safety.”
In trauma psychology, we speak of “Big T Traumas” such as wars, natural disasters, sexual assault, abuse and/or neglect, where a person comes face-to-face with an imminent threat to their safety or wellbeing, as well as “small t traumas” that may include job loss, divorce, moving to another area, being bullied, or medical procedures.