What is trauma and why is trauma treatment necessary?
Trauma can occur at any age. Traumatic events can be unexpected, or they can be repetitive and ongoing. Trauma results from a situation or event or from a series of events and circumstances that feels emotionally or physically threatening or harmful. Traumatic events have a lasting effect on the way that we view people, places, situations. Trauma can have lasting effects on our functioning including physical health, social interactions, emotional responses and spiritual wellbeing.
It is not only the traumatic event itself that determines if something is deemed to be traumatic; it is also the individuals experience of the event. This helps us to understand why in families or communities’ people will have different short-term responses together with long term consequences from the same situation or event. Often traumatic events can be a shock or unexpected, sometimes they can be ongoing and repetitive.
Many young people and the families who seek treatment in for behavioural health, mental health, addictions, eating disorders and serious mental illness have histories of trauma. Often, neither the family not the young person recognises the significance of the trauma in their lives. Sometimes those seeking treatment have not made the connection between lifetime traumatic events and the problems or issues that they are experiencing.
Some treatment providers may not enquire into the trauma history or may feel unprepared to deal with the trauma issues, preferring to focus on only the presenting problem. This is often described to us by young adults (and adults) who have experienced previous treatment episodes or admissions that have focused solely on the presenting problem (for example in substance use disorder or addictions treatment). When treatment has a focus only on the presenting issues, it can have a short-lived success rate or effect. Underlying trauma is one of the main reasons that young people, adults and those affected by traumatic histories return to unhealthy coping mechanisms; self-medicating the internal pain through the use of behaviours or substances that are destructive in the longer term.
Trauma and Substance Abuse and Young People.
Addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, spending, internet or social media can be related to our attempts to regulate our uncomfortable internal emotions. For some that discomfort is rooted in traumatic experience and trauma related life events. Traumatic events can cause wide reaching mental health effects in later life. Research indicates a link between the risk of addiction and exposure to trauma. The National Institute of health reports that more than a third of adolescents who report early trauma will have a substance use disorder before their 18th birthday.
Trauma focused therapy at The Wave?
The Wave Clinic specialises in Trauma focused care. Therapy is provided in a safe and confidential setting. Trauma focused therapy is a specific approach to the therapeutic relationship that recognises and understands how traumatic experiences can shape our responses to the world around us. Exposure to trauma or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) is known to affect our emotional, physical, behavioural, and spiritual wellbeing. Children who have experienced a high level of adverse childhood experiences have an increased risk of developing Mental Health concerns Addictions (including both substance use disorder and process addictions; sex, gambling, gaming or social media), Eating Disorders and have greater difficulty maintaining relationships with others.
Safety - Trauma focused therapy enables traumatic memories and experiences to be processed in a safe environment. Young people and families who have experienced traumatic events benefit from being able to process the events and their own internal experience. Traumatic experiences and our response to them vary, even in members of the same family who have shared or witnessed similar events. In trauma therapy we learn to re-establish safety. In young people and families where physical, emotional, psychological, and relational safety many violated; it is important to redevelop a sense of safety, test and security. The Wave trauma focused treatment programs have been designed to fulfil the needs of young people and families in rebuilding relational security and safety.
Identify Triggers and develop coping skills - Trauma focused treatment will allow family members and young people to express and process memories, feelings and events. Often Young People (and adults) with significant trauma will react to situations or traumatic reminders, in ways that seem ’too big’, ’too emotional’ or ‘come out of nowhere’, sometimes the reactions and responses that we see do not seem to find the current event or situation, they may seem out of proportion. Learning to recognise and understand the traumatic reminders or triggers and developing the skills to respond in a more appropriate and less harmful way. Trauma focused therapy allows us to development skills and tools to keep us safe and heal from past events.
Reduce traumatic Stress Symptoms - Exposure to trauma can impact our mental health. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, repetitive or intrusive thoughts, nightmares/ night terrors, self-harm, dissociation together with intense feelings of guilt, shame and rage can become evident in young people (and adults) who have a history of trauma or adverse life experiences. Working with a trauma informed therapist, in a safe place will help to reduces many of the symptoms and unpleasant feelings associated with exposure to lifetime trauma.
Processing trauma - Young people and families need a space where they can begin to understand he events or experiences that they have witnessed. Integrating the past and making sense of how unique experiences of the world have shaped emotional and psychological views. Processing trauma; making sense, validating and sharing in a space that is safe allows us to begin to heal and regain wellness.
Building Resilience - resilience is the process of being able to actively deal with the effects of traumatic life events. Building resilience involves a journey to through self-care and personal understanding. It is a skill that can be developed through ongoing trauma focused therapy; learning the skills needed to ‘bounce back’ in the face of adversity, crisis, relationship difficulties or unpleasant emotions. At the Wave our trauma treatment programs focus of building the skills needed through self-care and exploration to negotiate life challenges.
The Clinical Team at The Wave includes Certified Trauma Specialists and Family Trauma Specialists.
Each has a unique understanding of the impacts of trauma on the family system.
EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy. EMDR was originally developed for the treatment of PTSD. It is now used widely in the treatment of trauma. Anxiety, depression, eating disorders, stress and with other mental health concerns.
- Physical/sexual/emotional Abuse
- Physical/Emotional Neglect
- Exposure to Domestic violence
- Substance Abuse in the Family Home
- Mental Illness in the family home
- Parental Separation/divorce
- Family member sent to prison/detained
- Rape or sexual assault
- Intimate partner violence
- Natural disasters
- Verbal abuse
- Severe illness or medical procedures
- Physical assault
- Unexpected loss/death
- Loss of career/jo/financial pressure
Adverse Childhood Experiences
- Increase the risk of high risk behaviours including
- Drug and Alcohol abuse (700% increase)
- Multiple sexual partners
- Unsafe sexual practices
- Heart disease
- Chronic lung disease
- Reduced lifespan
- Suicide (3000% increase)
Trauma treatment The Wave includes:
- Certified Trauma professionals
- Certified Complex Trauma professionals
- Certified Family Trauma Professionals
- EMDR Specialists
- International Trauma Team
- Member of The Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals
Don't suffer alone
Trauma can leave us with a sea of uncomfortable emotions. It can be a daily struggle to keep traumatic reminders at bay. For some people using alcohol or drugs, shopping or sex together with any other compulsive behaviour can temporarily relieve the discomfort that they feel inside. Over time they may use more of the drug of choice or use more often. This causes an increase in their tolerance levels and they can find that they need to use more in order to experience the internal effort. This can be the begin of an addictive cycle. Sadly, despite their best attempts to cut down or stop using; the traumatic events unless tackled will remain a daily battle. This is turn can lead to replace into old self medicating behaviours. Treating Trauma and Addiction together is essential for long term recovery. The programs at The Wave are designed to work with both trauma and addiction simultaneously.
PTSD is a psychological reaction to an event where the individual felt that their life was severely threatened in some way. It can be as the result of a natural disaster, War, Famine, Sexual assault, Physical assault, accidents, hostage situation or extreme violence. PTSD symptoms can include; reliving the traumatic event, night terrors, going to great lengths to avoid any reminders of the traumatic incident or event, flashbacks; including smells, voices, sounds and visual images; panic, fear and hype-arousal. PTSD can begin at any time following an event. The acute symptoms can last anything between several weeks to several years. In most cases, the assistance of a Psychiatrist and Psychologist, Psychotherapist or other mental health professionals will be required. Residential or inpatient care is often recommended for severe symptoms.
The Wave is hive of reading materials, we support treatment by offering a selection of reading and written homework for those joining us for treatment and their families.
For further reading on trauma and the effects of traumatic events through the life time, we recommend; ‘Childhood Disrupted: How your biography becomes your biology, and how you can heal’ - Donna Jackson Nakazawa (available on Amazon)
’The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and body in the Healing of Trauma’ - Bessel van Der Kolk (available on Amazon)
‘Healing Trauma” - Peter A Levine (Available on Amazon & Google Books)
Whilst it will be beneficial for your partner to find a trauma focused therapist to find the answers to many of their questions, there are some things that you can do in the relationship. It is important to remember that you cannot ‘fix’ another person and that it is not your job to do so. You can however support and encourage. There may be issues with trust, feeling a burden, or having difficulty asking for help. Building a good network of friends and families or support network of others in similar situations can be useful. You can also find a good couples’ therapist to help you with communication in the relationship. You can set boundaries on what is ok and what is not ok within the relationship and stick to them. You can seek advice and help if you are concerned about addiction or eating disorders or other behaviours that are uncomfortable to witness. You can practice self-care, taking time for yourself as well as time as a couple. Communication is key to a successful relationship where healing can be encouraged.
For more FAQs, please refer to our FAQs page.
We take a holistic approach to recovery
Recovery is not a journey that should be taken alone.
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Are you looking to start the path to healing?
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