Experiences of trauma overwhelm
the mind and body.
During a traumatic event, our systems make changes to best help us survive the experience. After the danger has passed, some systems will return to previous functioning, while others will continue defaulting to survival mode. When the system continues entering survival mode, folks often experience symptoms with too much energy (such as anxiety, anger, or hypervigilance) or too little energy (such as depression, dissociation, or numbness). These symptoms tell us that something overwhelming happened and the traumatic information got stuck. To resolve these bothersome symptoms, your mind and body need the opportunity to process this stuck information.
For more information about therapies that can help process trauma, check out the About section.
Traumatic experiences may be single incidents or events that occur repeatedly over a long period.
Single Incident Trauma
Physical or Sexual Assault
Natural Disaster (ex. wildfire)
Victim of Crime (ex. robbery)
Frightening Medical Procedure
Accidents (ex. car)
Complex, Developmental, or Recurring Trauma
Childhood Sexual Abuse
Dating Violence/Domestic Violence (ex. physical, emotional, and sexual abuse)
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Ongoing Physical, Sexual, or Emotional Abuse
Witnessing Domestic Violence/Unsafe Behaviours
Diagnosis of Chronic Illness
Experiences of Betrayal/Infidelity
Physical or Emotional Neglect
Experiences of Rejection or Abandonment
Soldier/Civilian in Conflict-Affected Areas
The Three Phases of Trauma Treatment
For safe and effective treatment, experts recommend completing trauma work in three phases. The focus and number of sessions required to complete each phase will be dependent on your experiences and therapeutic goals.
“The experience of emotional overwhelm is similar to that of a shaken bottle of soda. Inside the bottle is a tremendous amount of pressure. The safest way to release the pressure is to open and close the cap in a slow, cautious and intentional manner so as to prevent an explosion.” -Babette Rothschild
1. Safety & Stabilization
How your brain, body and nervous system made changes
How your self-defence system has become overwhelmed
How to become mindful of your body sensations, feelings, and automatic responses
A felt sense of safety and establish greater safety in your environment
Skills to manage overwhelming symptoms
Capacity to connect with your body and create somatic boundaries
2. Trauma Memory Processing
Process traumatic experiences using mind-body therapies, such as:
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
3. Moving Forward
Grieve the losses associated with your experiences
Re-evaluate areas of your life that do not reflect your new sense of self
Connect or reconnect with people and activities that enhance your well-being