Trauma and PTSD therapy in Chiang Mai
Hypnotherapy and EMDR are a safe and natural way to resolve trauma and PTSD. Therapy for trauma and PTSD is available from the clinic in Chiang Mai or online.
Trauma might be defined as any event that upsets the status quo of our lives and challenges personal safety. Examples of trauma might include separation of parents, loss of a relationship or a personal accident. Unresolved trauma from the past has an effect in the present with emotional patterns influencing beliefs, perceptions and relationships.
PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is a condition resulting from lengthy subjection to dangerous circumstances. The result is a nervous condition in which an individual reacts to ordinary circumstance from the fight or flight response.
The history of PTSD
In the early days of psychology, PTSD was known as “shell shock”. Many soldiers returned from World War I with PTSD developed from continual exposure to explosions and the threat of attack. The result was personality change, profound anxiety and a state of dissociation. In that time, “real men did not cry” and the resulting lack of psychological support meant that many soldiers carried these symptoms with them to their death.
In later years as the importance of understanding emotion became clear, similar symptoms were reported by soldiers in different conflict situations and the term PTSD was coined – “post traumatic stress disorder”. It became clear that PTSD can be caused by personal trauma including child abuse and toxic relationships.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
In the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder it is important to understand the difference between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. These can be understood as two different modes that the body can be in. Parasympathetic corresponds to relaxation whereas sympathetic to a state of alertness caused by the perceived presence of danger.
The therapy model SUDS is an abbreviation for Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale. SUDS is a simple way to track a person’s emotional state. A “0” would equate to a complete total relaxation and security and a “10” to being under the most pressure it is possible to imagine. Over the course of life, stressful situations happen which push somebody up or down the scale.
Sources of stress are referred to as “stressor events”. When a source of stress (or unprocessed trauma) is resolved, the person comes a little bit lower down the scale and, when stressor events remain, the body remains tight and on guard.
“Stressor events” mount up on top of one another and, after a certain point, the body perceives danger and enters what is known as the “sympathetic nervous system”. Due to the perception of danger, the body releases high levels of adrenaline as a survival mechanism so that the person can fight with all of their strength or run with all of their speed. At the same time, neurotransmitters firing in the brain lead to side effects such as loss of memory.
In a normal “danger situation”, the source of danger is resolved and the person comes back down the scale towards the parasympathetic nervous system. It is believed that the condition known as PTSD arises when somebody spends an excessive amount of time within the sympathetic nervous system or – put quite simply – when they spend too long under threat.
The process of trauma
It is common for memories associated with unprocessed trauma to present themselves from the unconscious to conscious awareness, in an attempt to process. This often leads to “re-traumatization” where memories flashing into the mind trigger the associated emotions as well. A victim of a car crash may find themselves feeling anxious at the very thought of driving a car. A person who was raped may not feel safe to engage in relationships.
It is common for PTSD sufferers to be plagued by recurrent dreams and thoughts about the past trauma. When these thoughts enter the mind, the impressions and emotions that come with them are so real that it is as if the trauma is happening all over again. The memory has not been processed and is as if it is happening again and again.
Therapy to resolve trauma and heal PTSD
The core objective of therapy is to process traumatic memories. Therapy begins with training the client to enter a comfortable state of relaxation and build feelings of safety. It is essential for the client to understand that they can take themselves to this safe place in the mind at any time they need.
Therapy for trauma consists of counseling, regression therapy, EMDR and EFT with the aim of building confidence, integrating life learnings, processing shock and releasing the past.
Trauma and the emotional map
Emotions communicate. Processed memories of previously painful events pass peacefully through the mind and heart when thought about, whilst unresolved trauma trigger anxiety and pain.
One tool in therapy is to build an “emotional map” of the past. The client is asked to bring memories of past events (and relationships) to mind and to score the emotional response in the body on a scale of relaxation / anxiety. Unresolved memories emotional streams that come together into the pool of the now.
Therapy proceeds with a systemic plan to process one event at a time, often beginning by processing the strongest anxiety provoking elements of the past and causing an emotional “chain reaction” in other perceptions as well. When the most significant causes of anxiety are processed, less significant causes often fall away by themselves.
To backup the therapy and test it’s results, the client is encouraged to systematically expose themselves to the situations that they used to avoid in a phobic way. The experience of being able to do things that could not be done before is a major goal of therapy.