Dr. Anna Jetton
Somatic Awareness and Mindfulness for Trauma Treatment
While most people will experience challenges and hardship in their life, some people experience trauma. We’re beginning to understand trauma better now and have recognized that trauma is actually a physiological process that impacts our psychological and emotional wellbeing. When trauma is suppressed, it often leads to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and even PTSD.
While talk therapy can be effective at treating certain emotional and mental health issues, it can actually cause someone with trauma to re-experience their trauma. And when trauma survivors don’t have the emotional resources yet to process the trauma, talking or focusing on the event(s) of the trauma can send them into a state of confusion and hyper-arousal.
Trauma and the Nervous System
We have begun to understand that trauma exists in our body’s nervous system. When we experience acute or chronic trauma, our nervous system goes into “fight or flight” mode. To treat trauma, we must do so on a physical level by connecting with our bodies and allowing them to process and neutralize those unexpressed defensive fight or flight reactions.
If we do not allow our nervous systems to come back to a calm and neutral state, we are kept in a state of high arousal, and eventually, our nervous system becomes overwhelmed and shuts down. This is often when depression and PTSD symptoms present.
How Somatic Awareness Helps Heal Trauma
Somatic awareness and mindfulness help people suffering from the effects of trauma by getting them to become aware of the trauma in their body, without the need to recall the traumatic event(s). Body-focused therapies teach individuals how to release tension from the body, and therefore helps the nervous system release the trapped defensive energy. Examples include Somatic Experiencing (SE), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Brainspotting (BSP), as well as other forms of movement therapy including dance and yoga.
If you’ve tried talk therapy and are interested in exploring body-focused therapy, please get in touch with me. I would be very happy to discuss somatic meditation with you further and answer any questions you may have.