Trauma Work is Not One Size Fits All
The new buzzword is trauma. It’s everywhere. Everyone is talking about it and rightly so! Many people are waking up, like I did, to the realization that they have experienced trauma. That they have experienced some kind of traumatic event (no matter how big or small), that has not been fully resolved and discharged through their body and their nervous system.
There are several types of trauma.
- Shock Trauma is a threat to our personal being and survival.
- Innocent Trauma is an accident such as a car accident.
- Developmental Trauma occurs in the first 5 years of a child’s life with our primary attachment relationship. This could be neglect, abuse or some other adverse childhood experience.
- Complex Trauma is a combination of Developmental Trauma and Shock Trauma. It can be abuse at home with shocking experiences.
- Vicarious Trauma is when we are engaged with another who is experiencing trauma or stress. Many empaths may experience this.
- Mass Trauma is a catastrophic event where many deaths and injuries occur such as in a school shooting or war.
- Trans-generational Trauma is trauma that is passed down to the next generation.
- Systemic Trauma is embedded into our institutions, organizations, communities including cultural paradigms and dominant social identities that define who holds the power and privilege and does not.
My wake up call came after a sudden and painful medical procedure in January 2021 which was shortly after my mom’s death. I realized that medical procedure, and all the other ones I have experienced, were traumatizing for me and my body. This made me realize that all the car accidents I have been in are called Innocent Trauma and that the residue of these events still lives in my body. More importantly the unresolved trauma (energy) that was generated from these traumas are stored in my body and in my nervous system and this state of activation is what partially manages how I navigate my world today even though many of the car accidents, especially the major ones, took place in the late 1990s. This new awareness was a wake up call.
This new awareness, that all the unresolved, unprocessed, and unmetabolized traumatic events that I have experienced are still in my body running the show. That I am still carrying most of those today which are in turn dictating my everyday actions and reactions to daily events. How incredible is that? That my radar system is in overdrive and my nervous system is dysregulated and on high alert, all the time! That is until I committed to Nervous System RESET and the practices and principles in this framework.
This awakening then lead me to the realization that I have been living in a state of fight/flight for most of my life and the awareness that most people are too. That the chronic stress that most people live under plus the traumatic events that most of us have experienced have shifted our nervous systems into overdrive and into dysregulation. But what I am seeing on the landscape of trauma care on social media is that people are offering, a one size fits all approach. They are teaching viewers somatic or body-based exercises to help them, whether that’s in the form of breath work, ice plunge, meditation, mindfulness, movement, etc. But what they’re failing to do, in my perspective and within the framework of Nervous System RESET, is teach clients how to track sensations that arise from these body-based exercises to see if that exercise is settling to or activating to that individual’s nervous system. Does that particular sensory exploration (body based exercise) bring you/them closer to a feeling of safety? This is a question we ask in NSR work. We ask you to check in with your body to see how your body has responded to the sensory input to make sure it is a good practice for you to continue to do or not. If it is, we add it to your tool box of other curated resources for you to practice on a daily basis to help repattern your nervous system and to help you learn how to cultivate a feeling of safety and resilience in your body.
Titration is also critical when it comes to trauma work and care. Taking it slow and allowing the body to integrate and metabolize the sensory explorations, neural exercise and body based exercise is essential. I do hear this repeated often which is great, but what I’m not hearing is the importance of tracking sensation and teaching clients what it feels like in their physiology when they become activated and or settled. The feeling of being in activation or hyperarousal can get translated to be their normal state of being; to be passed off as just another stressful day and then another and another.
Another piece of this complex puzzle is calibration. When we offer these somatic exercises we also need to titrate so we can understand how our client is metabolizing the explorations so we can properly calibrate the work. We need to assess if the explorations we did with them were too much or just enough. We need to stay in touch and check in and follow up to ask how their body felt days after the work. We need to be able to measure if their body was able to digest and metabolize the explorations. Communication, assessment and feedback are essential to this work.
So next time you are on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok and you see someone demonstrating body-based exercises to help you down regulated your nervous system, please pause. What you don’t know is if that specific exercise is right for you and you alone. Again trauma work is not a one size fits all fix all. Just as the dosage of medicine is unique to everyone, so too is trauma work. Tracking sensation is key. You need to learn how to track sensation to understand if that specific exercise brings you closer to a feeling of safety and settling or if it is activating to you and your nervous system and in some cases, retraumatizing. To understand and experience this, you can work with a Nervous System RESET Practitioner. Regulation, education, safety and self-awareness which leads to empowerment and transformation are the core tenants of Nervous System RESET.
If you want to learn more about Nervous System RESET, please reach out to me for a 15 minute free consultation and join the waiting list to experience this transformational work in early 2023