How to Deal with Trauma

5 steps to heal after a painful experience

Trauma, according to WebMD, is defined as any serious injury to the emotional or physical body. MedicineNet defines psychiatric trauma as an experience that is emotionally painful, distressful or shocking and which may result in lasting mental and physical effects. A trauma, which can occur in a moment, can affect a person for a lifetime. There are many alternative therapies available for dealing with psychological trauma, and many ways a person can begin his journey of healing on an individual basis.

Step 1: Understand trauma

Experiencing a traumatic event that, in turn, continues to negatively affect your life post-event is considered a trauma-related disorder. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the most widely recognized trauma-related disorders.

According to WebMD, it is natural to experience strong emotions such as fear and anger after a traumatic event. It is when the reaction to the event does not go away that a disorder might have developed. Signs of PTSD include strong emotional reactions lasting for longer than one month and not being able to function in life as well as you did before the event. Three types of symptoms for PTSD are: continuing to re-live the event, avoiding all memories of the event and finally escalating and increasing emotions around the event.

Step 2: Investigate trauma-related psychotherapies

There are psychotherapists who specifically deal with trauma and trauma-related therapies. They have studied the causes and effects that trauma can have on our bodies and physiological state. These professionals are well-versed in healing the effects of trauma with therapy. Some of these fields includ: trauma therapy, transpersonal therapy, somatic therapy, mind body therapy, art therapy, trauma focused cognitive therapy and Hakomi therapy. Many of these therapies, such as Hakomi, are experimental and emotional, and as explained by the Hakomi Institute, work on releasing energy and emotional buildup.

Step 3: Try massage therapy

Massage therapy is an excellent alternative way to deal with trauma. A massage from a talented therapist addresses the physical, emotional and mental body simultaneously. The relaxation offered by massage can allow the trauma memories stored in the body, emotions and mind to come to the surface to be released and healed.

According to Massage and Bodywork Magazine, trauma touch therapy is a specific type of massage therapy that helps a survivor of trauma come back into her body and resist the numbness that is sometimes associated with trauma.

Step 4: Try yoga

Yoga can be another great alternative way to deal with trauma. An ancient technique designed to strengthen and purify the mind, body and spirit, yoga often helps release toxins created by stored emotions and stress.

According to a 2006 study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, women dealing with PTSD who took eight hatha yoga classes showed more improvement in their symptoms than women who participated in eight sessions of group therapy.

Step 5: Get involved in a support group

Dealing with trauma can cause a person to feel isolated. While everyone else is living a seemingly normal life, a person dealing with a trauma may always feel a sense of heaviness. Although anyone can be compassionate and understanding of trauma, only someone who has been through a trauma can really completely relate. Being a part of an organized trauma support group run by a professional can be very helpful in the acceptance and healing of trauma. Mental Health America has a multitude of helpful support group resources on its website.

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