Childhood trauma has profound impact on the emotional, behavioral, cognitive, social, and physical functioning of children. Developmental experiences determine the organizational and functional status of the mature brain. There are various adaptive mental ,relational and physical responses to trauma, including physiological hyperarousal and dissociation. Where once these response were adaptive survival states they become maladaptive as we mature. Because the developing brain organizes and internalizes new information in a use-dependent fashion, the more a child is in a state of hyperareusal or dissociation, the more likely they are to have neuropsychiatric symptoms following trauma. The acute adaptive states, when they persist, can become maladaptive traits locking us into a lifelong perpetual cycle of rupture without repair, chaos without relaxation. Life becomes about survival rather than connection. The Trauma Recovery Institute
“We use our minds not to discover facts but to hide them. One of things the screen hides most effectively is the body, our own body, by which I mean, the ins and outs of it, its interiors. Like a veil thrown over the skin to secure its modesty, the screen partially removes from the mind the inner states of the body, those that constitute the flow of life as it wanders in the journey of each day. The elusiveness of emotions and feelings is probably . . . an indication of how we cover to the presentation of our bodies, how much mental imagery masks the reality of the body” – Damasio
Traumatic life experiences often contribute to learned habits of movement and posture that reflect the self-protective movement patterns associated with those threats. Many of these trauma-related movement patterns affect the way that we move, sit and stand. They may lead to patterns of movement and posture that are abnormal and they may inhibit our normal coordination and our learning of other desirable motor skills.
Self-protective movement and postural patterns of the experienced trauma are stored in the brain and the body’s survival memory. These learned dysfunctional patterns persist because they are, in a metaphorical sense, necessary for defense against future threats similar to those that elicited the defense in the first place. If traumatic memories are implanted in the brain, internal cues (such as dreams, imagined scenarios, and memories) as well as sensory information from the external environment will evoke motor, autonomic, somatic, and visceral responses to a perceived threat. This process is almost entirely unconscious and occurs typically before any conscious recognition or awareness. Using the term ‘psychological’ as opposed to ‘physical’ to explain a physical symptom or somatic feeling state or emotional event defies the obvious – that all perceptions, thoughts, symbols, or experiences have a physiological basis within the mind / body continuum.
is grounded in models such as affect regulation theory, an interpersonal neurobiological model of emotional and social development from early human beginnings and across the lifespan, attachment research, polyvagal theory, traumatology and interpersonal neurobiology. Drawing upon these various scientific and clinical disciplines, our trauma recovery work describes how the structure and function of the right mind and brain are indelibly shaped by experiences, especially those embedded in emotional relationships, and how communicating right brains align and synchronize their neural activities with other right brains. These experiences of interpersonal synchrony are a central focus of Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy. At Trauma Recovery Institute we attempt to get to the root of your life challenging symptoms, discomfort, illness and maladaptive behaviours. This is not another talk therapy, we specialise in personality disorders & complex trauma and focus on the brain, body, mind, diet, lifestyle, relationships and most importantly the nervous system of which traumatic experiences have greatly shaped thus priming a predisposition of subsequent adversity. The definition of a traumatic experience is an experience or experiences that overwhlem our capacity to cope. Trauma effects all areas of the brain and all bodily systems often manifesting as cancer, IBS and a host of other chronic illnesses and pain syndromes which can not be otherwise explained.
on how to work more directly and effectively with bodily-based emotions, unconscious affect and transference – countertransference within the therapeutic relationship, especially in “heightened affective moments” of the session. Attention is also placed upon working with the defenses of right brain dissociation and left brain repression that blot out strong emotions from consciousness. This central focus on right (and not left) brain affect regulation in the co-created psychotherapy relationship shifts the clinical focus from a reasoned, coherent cognitive narrative to a spontaneous emotion-laden conversation. In this manner the clinical emphasis moves from objective cognitive insight to the subjective change mechanisms embedded in the emotional attachment bond of the therapeutic relationship itself. Trauma Recovery is a complex pursuit and due to trauma and neglect’s impact on all bodily systems, any approach to address the presenting symptoms will be an oversimplified model, therefore we must approach trauma with a multidisciplinary approach on top of cultivating presence and establishing a strong therapeutic alliance with our clients. Modules of treatments such as SE, EMDR, Neurofeedback etc may be helpful adjuncts but they are way too simplified to be effective treatment for trauma, complex trauma and the presenting symptoms of trauma and neglect. The right brain implicit self represents the biological substrate of the human unconscious mind and is intimately involved in the processing of bodily based affective information associated with various motivational states. The survival functions of the right hemisphere, the lo- cus of the emotional brain, are dominant in relational contexts at all stages of the lifespan, including the intimate context of psychotherapy. The central focus of the psychotherapeutic encounter is to appreciate the client’s motivation, we need to discern the emotional experience he or she seeks. At times, the goal sought will be self- evident to client and [therapist]. At other times, the goal will lie out of awareness and will be difficult to ascertain. The golden thread in assessing motivation lies in discovering the affect being sought in conjunction with the behavior being investigated. In other words, understanding the need underpinning the behaviour, the corrective emotional experience so to speak. The right hemisphere is dominant for the recognition of emotions, the expression of spontaneous and intense emotions, and the nonverbal communication of emotions. The central role of this hemisphere in survival functions is that the right hemisphere operates a distributed network for rapid responding to danger and other urgent problems. It preferentially processes environ- mental challenge, stress and pain and manages self-protective responses such as avoidance and escape. Emotionality is thus the right brain’s “red phone,” compelling the mind to handle urgent matters without delay. Neurobiological studies also demonstrate that the right cortical hemisphere is centrally involved in “the processing of self-images, at least when self-images are not consciously perceived. Deep psychotherapeutic changes alter not only conscious but unconscious self-image associated with nonconscious internal working models of attachment. Both unconscious negative emotions and unconscious self-images are important elements of the psychotherapy process, especially with the more severe self pathologies. Thus, the essential roles of the right brain in the unconscious processing of emotional stimuli and in emotional communication are directly relevant to recent clinical models of an affective unconscious and a relational unconscious, whereby one unconscious mind communicates with another unconscious mind such at that with the therapeutic alliance.
Interactive psychobiological regulation provides the relational context under which the client can safely contact, describe and eventually regulate inner experience. It is the client's experience of empowering action in the context of safety provided by a background of the empathic clinician's psychobiologically attuned interactive affect regulation that helps effect change. This form of presence to right brain affect regulation is critical for change process in psychotherapy. - The Trauma Recovery Institute
Talk therapy alone is not enough to address deep rooted trauma that may be stuck in the body, we need also to engage the body in the therapeutic process and engage ourselves as therapists and clients to a complex interrelational therapeutic dyad addressing transference - countertransferential modes of communication, rupture and repair, right brain to right brain, limbic system to limbic system, in order to address and explore trauma that persists in our bodies as adults which can present as complex reenactments inside and outside of therapy and influences our adult relationships, thinking and behaviour.” - The Trauma Recovery Institute
Damasio said that we hide the truth of the adversity we experience below conscious awareness, the price of this is that we must then act it out, which can be through rage, addictions, anti social behaviour, narcissistic attitudes etc this behaviour we witness by some of those we love as unpleasant as it may be is often a cry for help, this behaviour is a defence protecting a very wounded part of ourselves. Remember all behaviour is communication, we must ask what is been communicated. - The Trauma Recovery Institute
Attachment relationships have a fundamental impact on the developing infant. Over the last two decades, methodological and technological advances in neuroscience have provided us with hugely enlightening insights into how our attachment history shapes and structures the brain. It has highlighted how and why, integration of the brain structures is necessary for optimal psychological health. Neural integration brings with it the ease of well-being; without it, we now know, physical neuronal firing can be constrained by past synaptic learning, which creates behavioural patterns, and engrained, sometimes chaotic, emotional responses (Siegel, 2010). Trauma and Neglect can be framed as events in childhood that should not have happened and events which should have happened but did not. Attachment is a special emotional relationship that involves an exchange of comfort, care, and pleasure. Attachment is a relationship in the service of a baby’s emotion regulation and exploration. It is the deep, abiding confidence a baby has in the availability and responsiveness of the caregiver. Attachment is about creating a safe environment for optimal brain development for the child of which non stressed consistent attuned caregiving, touch, play, laughter, meeting basic needs and positive affirmation are all important parts of. When this goes wrong it has huge implications as we have been discussing in this Section. However the right kind of psychotherapy can correct this and through this therapeutic alliance with a safe therapist gives opportunity to what we call earned secure attachment.
“We now know that the mother and infant relationship directly shapes maturation of the infant’s right brain (Schore, 1996). This hemisphere has connections to the limbic system and the body and responds non-verbally, emotionally and relationally. The left hemisphere, in contrast, responds linguistically, logically and analytically (Wallin, 2007). Crucially, however, in the first few years of life, the right hemisphere is dominant; thus, early attachment memories are recorded experientially, through face-to-face, body-to-body, right-brain-to-right-brain interactions (Schore, 1996, 2009; Travarthen, 2001). It is the right brain’s pre-linguistic, somato-sensory-motor structures then that store the experience of secure attachment as well as the experience of rejection, abandonment or neglect ” – Schore