When you think of trauma you may imagine scenes of war, car accidents, sexual violence, or terrorism. You can have two types of trauma, Big T trauma, and Little t trauma.
Big T Trauma
These are events where you feared for your life or the life of a loved one. For example, you may have grown up in a family where one parent physically abused another parent. You feared for the life of the other parent and perhaps your own life. You may carry this trauma with you and experience symptoms from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). You feel alert all the time, have flashbacks, avoid certain situations, etc. You may use drugs or alcohol to numb your feelings around the trauma.
Little t Trauma
These are everyday events that cause our nervous systems to become dysregulated. These are not as severe as Big T trauma but they can cause us to have difficulty in our lives. For instance, you may have had a really mean teacher in elementary school who took pleasure in humiliating you in class. You fear public speaking due to this experience.
Back in the day therapists believed you needed to talk about your trauma in order to heal. Thanks to the work of trauma researchers we know we need to use body-based therapies in addition to talk therapy. Body-based therapies such as EMDR, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping, Breathwork, and Somatic Experiencing help the body to process trauma.
I have been studying EFT Tapping which uses acupressure to help the body’s nervous system to calm down. EFT is easy, convenient, and works rapidly to calm down the sympathetic nervous system.
We have the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic is our flight, flight, or freeze response to a threat. When we were running from tigers it was good our bodies could react in an instant without having to sit and think. If we stopped to mull over our options we could have been killed. Goodbye human race!
The parasympathetic nervous system is the rest and digest response. When we are out of danger we can rest, digest, and procreate. EFT works to engage the parasympathetic system through tapping on acupressure points on the body. These points are called meridians and Chinese medicine has been using them to treat various mental disorders for thousands of years.
What does this have to do with trauma? Trauma (Big T or little t) puts our sympathetic nervous system into hyperdrive. We can use EFT to calm down this innate response. Practitioners of EFT believe our bodies are like electrical systems and trauma puts that system out of whack. We use EFT to help that energy to move along.
I know this sounds woo-woo and perhaps implausible. There over 80 research studies that back up this trauma treatment. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs has approved of this treatment for their patients as of 2017.
I use EFT in addition to traditional psychotherapy in order to provide treatment to trauma survivors. I believe you can heal by learning skills to calm down your body.