Trauma is an emotional response to ‘an event or series of events of an extremely threatening or horrific nature, most commonly prolonged or repetitive events from which escape is difficult or impossible’. However, in a wider sense trauma refers to any distressing experience, for which a person is unprepared and which is psychologically overwhelming. Exposure to a traumatic event often causes short-term effects such as feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, fatigue or helplessness. It can also cause nightmares, intrusive thought or images of the event and avoidance of triggers. Sometimes exposure to trauma leads to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Complex PTSD. Treating trauma response may include both talking therapy and medication prescribed by a doctor. Brainspotting (BSP) is a powerful brain-based therapy for working with unprocessed trauma.
10 ways therapy with Lisbon Counselling can help clients who have experienced trauma
In counselling the client and the therapist create a safe, supportive and non-judgemental space, in which it is safe to explore.
When a client finds it hard to talk about trauma, using Brainspotting allows for deep brain processing without the need to discuss details and thus minimising the risk of re-traumatising. The client chooses how much or how little they want to share.
The therapist holds a 'dual attunement' frame for the client, which provides both relational and neurobiological attunement. This helps to regulate the client's nervous system and promotes their brain neuroplasticity.
Brainspotting is a powerful treatment for processing difficult feelings or memories. Using eye positions to access unprocessed trauma is a physiological method with psychological consequences. Here is further reading on neurophysiology of BSP.
Experiencing trauma often changes a person’s perceptions of self, of the world around them and of others. In counselling there is room for discussion what those new perceptions/beliefs are, and what they mean to the client and their relationships.
Validation and normalisation of the client's experience can help the client become ‘un-stuck’ and to find ways to move forward.
Together with the counsellor, the client can identify and expand their resources for coping in challenging situations e.g. when they are being faced with a trigger.
The therapist can support the client by modelling compassion, acceptance and nurturing behaviours. This can allow the client to enhance their self-acceptance and to self-compassion.
The counsellor provides structure with weekly sessions, which helps the client create their self-care routine.
The therapist can offer psychoeducation around trauma to enhance the client’s understanding of what they have gone through.
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