We have found in our work that generally when a person experiences different types of trauma, the distress and dysregulation caused by the trauma can lead to other manifestations of the pain including addiction, depression, anxiety, self-harm, attachment difficulties.
Addiction in Early Recovery
At Trauma and Beyond Psychological Center ® we focus on treating individuals who are suffering from addictions and are in early recovery. Addictions are one way that people learn to cope with pain, trauma, dysregulation, and distress. The addiction can be to drugs, alcohol, gambling, gaming, social media, self-harm, binging, purging, restricting, pornography, sex, and to love. When we think about addiction we understand that addiction can take many forms and many levels.
You might find that you need drugs and alcohol just to get through the day. Or you might be able to function during the day without getting high but you’re just waiting to get home to “relax,” and drink or smoke. You may find that anytime you get upset you want to get high or eat sugar and carbs. What happens over time is that we don’t’ know how to calm ourselves or feel better without one type of substance or another. We treat addiction, in early recovery, because if a person is still in active addiction they will not be able to learn the self-regulation tools we are providing. If they are still using drugs/alcohol to soothe their addiction, it will interfere from being able to develop new neural pathways for soothing.
Or you may just find that you are bored with life. Can’t have fun without substances? Does your boredom stem from a sense of emptiness or aloneness? Sometimes substances are used to mask feelings of isolation. At Trauma and Beyond ® we often find that substances or acting out strategies people use are really band-aids to cope with underlying distress, disease, and trauma.
After time we develop habits and patterns of finding ways to “cope” with our emotions and relationships that are unhealthy and unhelpful. Our goal is to help you experience the world differently and be more fully present for yourself and others.
At Trauma and Beyond ® we are here to help you develop agency and empowerment– to be able to not only understand these patterns and decrease symptoms of distress — but also to move forward and develop healthier patterns, in order to facilitate the growth of new neuronal pathways for being in the world.
Do you often feel sad or sorrowful? Do you feel lost and alone? Do you find yourself fatigued with no energy having trouble sleeping or eating? Do you experience worthlessness, and your thoughts chase one after another in a hopeless circle? Have you lost interest in things that you used to find pleasure in? Do you have a negative sense of yourself, the world, and the future? Do you have suicidal thoughts? These can all be signs of depression.
At Trauma and Beyond ® we can help you to find ways out of the depressive cycle and sense of hopelessness about the past, present, and future.
Do you find yourself worrying all the time? Do you often feel the sensations of panic attacks, such as a heart pounding, shortness of breath, light-headedness, fear you’re going crazy, chest pressure or fear you’re going to have a heart attack? Do you often feel internally agitated? Do you sense danger in the world or feel that something bad is always going to happen. Some of us continually sense fear and danger in the world. Our (body doesn’t know how to differentiate between types of “danger,” is it the danger in our mind or danger in real life? Our body reacts the same. Our nervous system has forgotten that sometimes an alarm can just be “the tea-kettle” rather than always thinking “the house is burning down.”
At Trauma and Beyond ® our integrated approach working with mind, body, and emotions can help to facilitate the ability for self-regulation and self-soothing. Calming both body and mind helps to facilitate integration that will reduce symptoms of anxiety.
There are times a person has learned to express the pain inside by creating pain on the outside. These wounds can show others we are in pain. They can be a way to get attention, but more often they are a way to alleviate psychic pain by causing physical pain because science suggests the body releases chemicals that can create numbing reactions. Some individuals find that purging can also create numbing and dopamine reactions.
Our expert staff is trained to work with clients to facilitate the expression of their pain in words, images, pictures, songs, poems so that they can release the pain without having to inflict wounds upon themselves.
It is well known that in the first few years of life the patterns of how we relate to others is created. Starting in-utero our environment directly influences the growth of the developing fetus. The actual structure and function of our brain and nervous system is shaped by our earliest interactions with our environment. When attachment needs are met the infant feels safe in the world, comes to expect her needs to be met and feels that the world is a good place to be in. When attachment needs are not met infants must develop survival strategies to protect themselves, and these become lifelong ways of being in the world.
Sometimes caregivers are loving and attuned, and sometimes they are emotionally unavailable, rejecting, or even abusive.
Our skilled therapists are informed by attachment theory and interpersonal neurobiology. They are trained to work with clients to help develop more secure connections.
Affect Regulation refers to the ability to experience intense positive and negative effect without becoming overwhelmed or using protective strategies such as numbing, dissociation, alcohol/drugs, or other defenses. When the nervous system is out of balance due to early attachment breeches, we may feel chronically stressed, tense, anxious and overwhelmed or numb, deadened and depressed. Somatic approaches such as Somatic Experiencing, TRM, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and NARM can be helpful in working to regulate the nervous system and increase resiliency in clients.
Trauma, Intergenerational, Developmental Trauma
Everyone will experience or witness some type of trauma in their lifetime, whether it is what we call Big T (shock trauma ) or little T (developmental trauma). Trauma can also be passed down through the generations and cultures and is often referred to as intergenerational trauma. Though everyone who experiences trauma may not develop symptoms that interfere with their ability to function, for some people trauma can create a long list of symptoms both emotionally and physically. These symptoms may be deeply rooted in the past (through the generations) and in the present, but they will often effect them, their relationships, and their children, possibly for generations to come. With trauma informed treatment, you can stop this chain by confronting it at its roots.
Felling’s of sadness
Felling’s of numbness or disconnection
Heightened Startle Response
Elevated Blood Pressure
Trauma by definition is an event which causes extreme distress, overwhelming the nervous system and creating fear for one’s life or safety, or for the life or safety of another. This kind of trauma is sometimes called big T trauma. Relational Trauma has to do with trauma in response to another human being and developmental has to do with the way in which repeated, chronic abuse, neglect or mis-attunement compromises physical or emotional growth. At Trauma and Beyond ® we believe that trauma is at the root of many other disorders. Here are some of the ways in which adapted survival strategies may develop in response to developmental trauma.
Avoiding Relationships/Overdependence on Relationships
Rigid Boundaries/ Lack of Boundaries
Sexual compulsivity/ Sexual Anorexia
Alcohol Drug Abuse
Feelings of Numbness, Dissociation
Pat Ogden -“When a person starts to have the experience of a new possibility that is somatically based – not just an idea in the head – they start to feel hopeful… We can’t change what happened but we can create new associations within that memory.”
Peter Levine “Only by going through the body’s felt-sense can the core experience of trauma change…Going from the torrential sea of trauma in a rowboat and getting to the safety of a substantive landmass is the difference between reliving and revisiting trauma.”