When a people experience a traumatic event, it is very common for them to isolate that event within their mind and body, as a way of protecting themselves from feelings that can be frightening and overwhelming. Even after efforts to isolate an event, trauma can remain a powerful presence within your system, and a seemingly harmless happening experienced through the lens of trauma can trigger it. When activated, feelings of terror or hopelessness can overwhelm the system and unleash self-destructive patterns of behavior that prevent an ability to cope with daily life.
Pulling the Curtain Back on Trauma, Like in The Wizard of Oz
Treating trauma can be like pulling back the curtain and revealing the truth about the Wizard of Oz. At first glance Oz is a larger than life, frightening and powerful presence who is in control of Dorothy’s destiny. Smoke and fire conceal Oz as he bellows at Dorothy commanding that, to receive his help, she must fulfill a seemingly impossible task. In the end, it’s revealed to viewers that the all-powerful Wizard was a little person, frantically manipulating nobs and pushing buttons behind a curtain.
Here, we take a look behind the ‘curtain’ of trauma and explore three non-traditional, evidenced-based treatments for helping to overcome it.
Ruby Slippers – Eye Movement Desentization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Like tapping Dorothy’s ruby slippers together three times, EMDR uses tapping or eye movement to enable clients to reprocess trauma and release the most disturbing and debilitating aspects of it. Bi-lateral stimulation, or visual, auditory or tactile stimuli occurring in a rhythmic side-to-side pattern, create a new neural pathway in the brain. This pathway allows past and present information to be processed through a healthier lens versus one that is distorted and blurred by trauma.
A Yellow Brick Road – Trauma-Informed Yoga
Dorothy followed the yellow brick road to Emerald City. In Trauma Informed Yoga, participants are invited to follow a path toward healing trauma through gentle body movements. The goal of this type of Yoga is to support stabilized emotions and to increase tools for those dealing with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. It focuses on integrating breath and meditation with physical postures. In this type of yoga, more attention is given to gentle movements and there are fewer hands-on adjustments.
The Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and The Tin Man – Internal Family Systems (IFS)
Dorothy had three trustworthy companions as she navigated her quest to find home. Dick Schwartz, who developed IFS might refer to this trio as subpersonalities or parts. IFS is an integrative approach to individual therapy that suggests that the mind is made up of parts, each with its own viewpoint and distinct qualities. A core principal of IFS is that every part has a positive intent for the person, even if its actions or effects are counterproductive or cause dysfunction. The IFS method promotes internal connection and harmony.
People in therapy for trauma, unlike the Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man come to The Lovett Center with an abundance of courage, brains, and heart. Most, like in Dorothy’s case, discover that they’ve had the power within to return home to themselves the entire time. For trauma survivors, there is no place like self. To learn more about how we can assist with healing trauma, fill out a confidential inquiry here.
Carroll Campion is a Licensed professional Counselor with more than 18 years of experience. She uses EMDR and IFS principles to help her clients heal. While at the Lovett, Carroll has led groups for both Pathos (the Intensive Outpatient Program) and the Adolescent Outpatient Program. The National Council for Behavioral Health recently named her one of the top twenty Mental Health First Aid in the country.