I have just returned for the 25th International Trauma Conference hosted by Bessel van der Kolk and the Justice Resource Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Overwhelmingly, the presenters said that one single modality of therapy to treat trauma is an outdated and ethically irresponsible approach.
They recommended a multi-modal approach to optimal health consisting of a variety of body, mind, and soul level activities to calm the nervous system, rebalance the limbic and other sub-cortical areas of the brain, and restore a feeling of safety in the body and optimise health all the way down to cellular levels.
This is what we have been doing at Abeles Consulting for many years now, and this is what we recommend.
- YOGA for trauma.
There are some specific poses that are helpful to start the process of having people slowly get a sense of safety in their body once again. ‘Restorative’ and ‘Yin’ Yoga are excellent gentle yoga practices to begin with. These are being offered more recently, even if you attend one session per week, this will help your trauma recovery immensely.http://www.traumasensitiveyogaaustralia.com/trauma-aware-yoga-classes.html
- MOVEMENT for TraumaThis includes dance and any other movement focused activity. One presenter at the conference is looking for funding to research the efficacy of tango over CBT for resolution of trauma symptoms. You may laugh now, but let’s wait to see if she gets the funding.
Our very own Salene Souza, originally from Brazil, has developed a lovely, fun way to use movement to safely return to your body. She calls it SAMBA Therapy.
The sessions are planned to work on different parts of the body in order to practice the 5 important “Bs” in life: Breath, Bounce, Balance, Boundaries and Bliss.
Even people who hate to move, love this fun movement activity. There is no requirement to have any rhythm, dance experience or love of dance to benefit.
The Conference had a presentation/workshop by the people at IMPACT who use defense training to help trauma survivors feel empowered.
In the experience of trauma we may have fought back or have an attempt to fight back blocked. Regaining the feeling that we can push back and push away is intrinsic to full recovery, especially if your trauma experience was from a person/s, animals attacking you rather than a motor vehicle accident or a drowning for example.
Abeles Consulting’s, Andrea Szasz, is a fan of Muay Thai Defense training to build and sustain a feeling of strength in the body.
- ACTING/DRAMA or PSYCHODRAMA for TraumaActing out words and actions related to trauma as an ACTOR in a play has been shown to be very cathartic and has long term benefits. So getting involved in community theatre can be helpful.
Salene Souza is also a trained PsychoDrama facilitator.
- BRAIN BASED THERAPIES for TraumaThe common feeling at the conference was that if you are not practicing brain-based psychotherapies for trauma you had better get trained asap or be left far behind. Bessel van der Kolk believes doing anything less than that could be considered unethical in this day and age.
The fundamental conundrum of how trauma affects the mind and body that still plays out in treating trauma survivors was already crystallizing in van der Kolk’s mind 20 years ago. “When people get close to re-experiencing their trauma, they get so upset that they can no longer speak,” he says.
“It seemed to me then, that we needed to find some way to access their trauma, but help them stay physiologically quiet enough to tolerate it, so they didn’t freak out or shut down in treatment. It was pretty obvious that as long as people just sat and moved their tongues around, there wasn’t enough real change.”
These BRAIN-BASED therapies would be modalities such as; Brainspotting, and EMDR which work with the sub-cortical brain in a way that CBT and other talk therapies cannot.
- BODY INCLUSIVE THERAPIES for Trauma
These would be modalities such as Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Body-Oriented Psychotherapies and Hakomi.
Somatic experiencing training for therapists is available in Australia now through
- ORTHO-MOLECULAR THERAPIES for TraumaOver time, traumatised people’s bodies suffer and break down and whole internal systems tend to be compromised. This leads to symptoms in: gastro-intestinal, reproductive, migraines, muscular problems, sleep disruptions, eating disruptions, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, skin conditions and so on.
Most people with unresolved trauma have low vitamin, amino acid and mineral balances and disrupted hormonal balances. Many have had years of drug and alcohol addictions and most are on high doses of one or more pharmaceuticals. ALL have out of balance intestinal/gut flora.
Thorough blood and saliva panels need to be done to assess what is depleted, and then a program designed to supplement and rebalance all these necessary elements begun.
A naturopath is the best person to see about these areas, or a medical doctor with a specialty in the areas of hormones, thyroid function, adrenal fatigue, amino acid therapy and IV vitamin and mineral supplementation.
Eating fermented foods is highly encouraged such as home-made sauerkraut, fermented veggies and kefir. You can buy these at most organic food markets or research them on the internet. Body Ecology supplies some of these in Australia.
Easing off sugar is a good idea too, as sugar creates highs and lows in mood which becomes out of balance. You can try Stevia as an option.
I would add one more:
- PUTTING FUN BACK IN YOUR LIFE for traumaIt’s important to spend time with people who love you and you love, doing things that are not recovery related to have some balance.
Having pets can help as they are helpful in getting you to focus on them rather than on what is troubling you.
Getting back into things you used to do before the trauma can help too especially if it takes all your focus to do it; DIY renovations, gardening, ceramics, kayaking, hiking, quilting, watching movies, wandering around at outdoor markets, volunteering, doing something for someone else who needs help.
WRITTEN BY cmd-admin-313 | 13 09 2016