How To Treat Trauma and PTSD: Two Essential Approaches

PTSD treatmentDefining trauma treatment can provide a HUGE boost in your recovery process. Without knowing what trauma treatment really is it’s hard to know what or how to do whatever it is that will bring you to successful healing.

So, when you think about trauma treatment, do you have a clear idea of what that means? I’ll be honest, when I received my PTSD diagnosis my first thought was, “Now what???” I had absolutely zero ideas about what it meant to approach and treat trauma. As a matter of fact, the only thing I could think of was to talk about it, which I really didn’t want to do. So…. for a long time I didn’t get into treatment because the lack of definition I had about it made me fear it even more.

In your own quest to feel better, perhaps you too have gotten stumped by how to picture trauma treatment. When you can’t imagine what treatment looks like it’s easy to become even more averse to it, and to think you can’t possibly engage in it. Of course, the problem with this is that without treatment healing is rarely possible. (In fact, I’ve never met a healed survivor who didn’t engage in some kind of treatment.) All of this makes understanding the purpose of treatment more crucial than ever. What exactly does “trauma treatment” mean? To have a concrete answer I recently interviewed Judy Crane, founder of The Refuge – A Healing Place, a center right here in Florida that treats trauma, PTSD and addiction. With decades of work in this area, plus her own trauma recovery to pull from, and her extensive training, Judy explained two strong concepts for creating your treatment program.

Telling Your Story

The purpose of treating trauma is to address your behaviors and coping mechanisms. In order to heal it helps to clearly identify “the problem”. Starting to tell your story begins with completing three simple statements: “I am ___”, “I was _____”, “I want to be _____”. From there, the process moves into what Judy calls the “trauma egg”: chronicling the history of your trauma and its effects through the years of your life. By doing this you discover the patterns that have been put in place and even, sometimes, recover memories and information that have been buried.

The value of telling your story lies in the understanding you gain, plus shifting your perspective from seeing yourself as a bad person trying to be good to wounded person trying to get well. When you see things from this vantage point you can begin cobbling together a strategy for how to approach treatment of the problem and your eventual release from it.

Doing the Work

Processing out the affect of trauma has to be done on the visceral, sensory and cellular levels. Whether your trauma was physical in nature or not the experience leaves deep imprints on your neurophysiological and psychological selves. It helps to address each of these areas in treatment so that the full impact of trauma is flushed out. Two approaches Judy sees as enormously beneficial include:

Core Work – This work seeks to acknowledge the truth surrounding your trauma issues: what happened, how, why and all the other details that make trauma a reality. Since we so often hide from things that are painful it’s easy to ignore the truth. And yet, doing so creates even more distortions, myths and lies than the initial trauma leaves behind.

Mind/body/spirit – In this aspect of treatment you seek to release pain from all three places you most hold it: your emotions, muscles and soul. Through a combination of traditional talk, alternative processes and movement-focused approaches you can reach all three of these areas to form a triumvirate of healing that encompasses your whole self.

Too often in my own healing—and so often in the recovery processes of survivors with whom I interact—I see a very strict “there’s only one way to heal” mentality. In truth, there are many ways to achieve the purpose of recovery. Looking at the past, getting answers, and releasing what’s being held onto in unhealthy ways is a process of unfolding the mystery of who you are, how you got that way, and how you can change and continue to evolve.

I rarely encourage imagining ahead and developing ideas about what you will encounter in healing. Usually, I prefer to stay present and take each moment as its own entity. In this case, though, looking ahead to understand where you’re headed can be beneficial. Trauma treatment needs a loose game plan. When you know what your strategy is, and when you can envision the work that needs to be done in simple terms, you can begin imagining both how you will be able to engage in it, plus what to expect as you move through each phase. Having that kind of picture in your head is like holding $1 million in your hand: it gives you the feeling you can do anything.

To listen to my entire conversation with Judy Crane about how to treat trauma:  click here.

 
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