Effective and Compassionate Trauma Treatment in Beautiful Malaysia
Think of the word ‘trauma.’ What image does it conjure up? Abuse? Severe illness? Natural disasters? While trauma can stem from all those things, it can also crop up from less intense events like divorce or death of a loved one. Young people with trauma aren’t trying to get attention or act out – they’re simply responding to situations and events that have left them greatly distressed.
More than just a throw-about word, trauma can have a lasting psychological impact. It can cause everything from nightmares and flashbacks to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Young people especially struggle with trauma, making it difficult for them to regulate their emotions and control their feelings.
At The Wave, we know just how difficult it can be to watch a loved one struggle with trauma. You want to help them, but you don’t know how to break through their walls. That’s what we’re here for – to give them the support and treatment they need to recover.
The Story of Tea, Hope, and Sparkles
Flowering Tea: How Chrysanthemum Tea Became the Symbol of The Wave’s Trauma Processing Groups for Teens.
It was in the middle of a tropical rainstorm in 2021 when our signature flowering tea was first served in our trauma processing groups.
With eight brilliant young people and a willingness to work together to process some of life’s significant challenges, they gathered over a pot of beautiful yellow chrysanthemum tea.
Together, they examined the dehydrated flower and learned to hold it gently so as not to cause any damage to the fragile petals. They placed it in the delicate glass teapot, inside a special chamber made of glass-within-glass, and laughed as they recounted tales of Cinderella’s sophisticated glass shoe.
They poured on the water, boiled, and then cooled to precision before replacing the lid on their container (creating smart containers is one of the things they are good at).
They took their seats, watched, and waited with patience. There was no point in continuously asking precisely when the flower would bloom. It would happen exactly when it was meant to. There was no point in succumbing to anxiety or impatience; they all knew that, in time, the flower would reveal its beauty.
The gentle warmth, the holding container, and the skill of the tea maker in knowing where and when to place each component meant that they were all rewarded when the yellow petals began to unfurl, one after the other, filling their stormy room with a semblance of sunshine.
The chrysanthemum showed them the way, and they were ready to follow its lead. They believed they could achieve anything their hearts desired with the right recipe.
Treatment for Childhood Trauma
Early childhood trauma refers to traumatic experiences that happen to babies, toddlers, and children up to the age of six. People often think children simply forget about these memories, but trauma is much more complex. The brain can suppress negative experiences, but these memories can easily resurface years later, especially if the trauma is unresolved.
Children react to trauma in different ways, including:
- Becoming clingy
- Development regression, such as bedwetting or waking up during the night
- Complaints of tummy aches and headaches
- Behavioural issues
Luckily, recovery is possible. Even if you’re only discovering it now, your child can heal from traumatic past experiences. At The Wave, we use a combination of therapy, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), and a range of alternative therapies to help get your loved one back on track.
Trauma Treatment Options
Recovering from Trauma
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
The only way for someone with trauma to heal is by addressing and acknowledging the traumatic event or experience that triggered their PTSD in the first place. One of the most popular treatment options for this includes EMDR – a psychological treatment that uses eye movements to help process trauma.
Young people will work with a dedicated psychotherapist and be guided through their past traumatic experiences, all the while following the therapist’s finger and making eye movements. This may also be switched up to include the therapist tapping their fingers or playing certain tones and sounds.
Polyvagal Theory for the Treatment of Trauma
At The Wave, we believe learning about trauma and developing self-compassion is a key component to healing. A form of psychoeducation, young people will be guided through the Polyvagal Theory and learn about the physiology behind their trauma and why they can’t just think their way out of traumatic experiences or reactions.
The main focus of the Polyvagal Theory is on the vagus – a nerve directly responsible for the fight-or-flight response. While working through this theory, young people will come to learn how the vagus helps the body calm down in traumatic or stressful situations and use this information to better regulate their own responses and emotions, as well as remove trauma from the nervous system.
Stress Response Theory
During their stay with us, young people will also work with a therapist and be guided through the stress response theory to better understand their trauma and their responses to negative memories and experiences. This theory hypothesizes that there are five main stages that happen as a result of adjusting a processing trauma, including outcry, denial, repetition, working through the trauma, and completion.
Every young person struggling with trauma will have the chance to work through each of these response stages, better understanding their own reactions and how they can regulate their emotions and move past their trauma healthily.
Often, young people come through our doors with a lot of unresolved trauma. Sometimes this trauma has been repressed, and other times it’s simply been difficult for the individual to acknowledge and process the traumatic event. In these cases, brainspotting can help them process their trauma and identify any underlying traumatic events.
We know how difficult it is to look back at trauma and relive memories, so all our young people will be guided through the experience with a dedicated therapist. As part of the therapy, young people’s eye movements will be analysed to help therapists understand, locate, and process the underlying trauma.
A body-centric approach to healing and overcoming trauma, somatic experiencing focuses on both emotional responses to traumatic events and bodily (somatic) responses. During these therapy sessions, young people will work with a psychotherapist who will guide them through their traumatic experiences, asking questions and prompting reflection on surroundings, colours, mood, and even the weather on the day that the traumatic incident occurred.
This is a gentler approach to processing and revisiting trauma, and will help young people release traumatic energy from their bodies, build up extra resilience, and better manage stress levels and emotions.
NARM – NeuroAffective Relational Model
Some of the young people who come to us may be suffering from complex trauma; a type of trauma that happens in children who have experienced multiple and severe traumatic events. It can be very difficult for these young people to look back at these events and process their trauma – some of it may even be buried and repressed. By working with a therapist and going through the NARM model, they’ll be able to break barriers and get rid of any disconnections they feel between their child self and adult self.
NARM can also help young people develop a better relationship with themselves, as well as help them to get rid of any distortions or limiting beliefs they hold about their identity.
Trauma and Addiction
Trauma is often at the root of addiction. Feeling pain, distress, or anger from a past traumatic event can drive young people to abuse substances. In the short term, taking drugs acts as a release and way to numb the pain. Over time, however, it can turn into a full-blown addiction, carrying a wealth of risks and side effects with it.
Drugs and alcohol can actually exacerbate trauma and intensify emotions, leading to a vicious cycle of substance abuse. If a young person is suffering from trauma and addiction, it’s key they get treatment from a clinic.
At The Wave, we specialise in treating co-occurring disorders and always believe there’s a link between mental health and addiction. Before setting up a personalized treatment plan, we’ll take your child through medical detox. This will help set them up for their trauma treatment.
Trauma and Eating Disorders
Eating disorders aren’t just caused by a desire to look a certain way or fit society’s standards – it can also be driven by trauma. Restricting or bingeing can help a young person feel in control of a situation. Unlike a traumatic event, they have power over what’s happening to them and their body – no one else does.
In cases of abuse or rape, an eating disorder can even be a way of releasing pain and ‘cleansing’ oneself. Although we all know that these scenarios are nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about, victims can often feel ‘dirty’ or ‘damaged.’ In this way, restricting food intake can help them feel like they’re getting rid of the trauma that happened to them.
Seeing a loved one battle with trauma and an eating disorder can be crippling. You may feel hopeless or have no idea what to do. At The Wave, we understand your pain and we’re here to assure you that recovery is possible. We’ll approach every young person who walks through our doors with care, respect, and support – guiding them through their treatment journey every step of the way.
The Three E’s
Trauma can be difficult to spot in a young person. Typically, professionals determine if someone has trauma using the three ‘e’s’. This guide was first referenced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The three ‘e’s’ of trauma are:
A single event or repeated incident that causes physical or psychological harm (or poses the threat of causing harm). Examples include:
- Natural disasters
- Terrorist attacks
- Physical assault
- Sexual assault
- Death of a loved one
- Emotional abuse
- Childhood neglect
People respond to situations differently, so what is traumatic for one person might not be for another.
Factors including cultural beliefs, access to support, and developmental stages of a young person might also affect the way they experience trauma.
A person may experience short or long-term effects from trauma that can occur immediately after the event or develop later in life. Side effects usually vary depending on the type of trauma.
For example, a person who experienced childhood neglect may have anxiety, trust issues, and struggle to control their emotions. They may also have problems with anger management. However, these might be seen as behavioural issues and not side effects of trauma.
Frequently asked questions
By dictionary definitions, trauma literally means ‘shock or injury.’ In psychology, it’s a little more complicated – trauma is any kind of event that has caused significant distress or harm to an individual. This could be anything from abuse and rape to life-changing accidents.
Short for PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder is an officially diagnosed mental health condition caused by traumatic events. At first, it was thought that only soldiers in battle could experience PTSD. However, now we know that anyone who’s experienced trauma can develop the disorder.
Trauma is a complex disorder and needs to be approached with love and care. If someone you know is struggling with PTSD or trauma, take the time to listen to them, understand their triggers, and respect their boundaries and privacy.
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