Healing Trauma: Holistic PTSD Recovery
Healing trauma is vital to leading a healthy life because psychological trauma can change the course of a person’s life and in some cases leave devastating life-long scars. Trauma can come from any situation that poses a threat to personal safety or sense of wellbeing. The events can be real or perceived; trauma is any event that the psyche can’t cope with or process as it happens. A traumatic event may be etched in our conscious memory, or it may be stored directly in the unconscious mind. In either case, the limbic brain creates coping mechanisms which keeps us in states of hyper vigilance and chronic fight or flight mode. Healing trauma is necessary because this permanent state of heightened stress not only takes its toll on the body by constant release of stress chemicals and the psyche, but limits our ability to access higher brain functions. These higher brain function are imperative for any sense of wellbeing, peace, and happiness.
Trauma is stored indefinitely in the limbic brain, until it is processed and healed. Overpowering emotional reactions can be triggered by any unrelated event that the brain perceives as similar to the original threatening situation. This association occurs in the limbic brain regardless of how much time has passed since the original trauma occurred. Without healing trauma, events can continue to trigger a trauma response, and the ability to cope with situations and emotions becomes overwhelming. Over time this cycle threatens our physical health and emotional health. Traumatic events change our perceptions of the world and the world becomes less safe over time. This happens unconsciously. A person caught in chronic hyper- vigilance may never feel relaxed and comfortable in their own skin again.
As a result of the trauma experienced, some people develop psychological disorders including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). Not everyone exposed to trauma develops a disorder, however, “it is estimated that 70% of adults in the United States will experience one or more traumatic events in their lives, and 20% will go on to develop PTSD”1 For people who are in a deep state of traumatic suffering, traditional methods may not be enough to bring the person back to a state of balanced emotional and physical health. A recent number of complementary and alternative holistic approaches to healing trauma, including energy psychology, have entered the mainstream. While these holistic PTSD treatments approaches are not yet widely utilized, they will be based upon their rapid effectiveness and swift precision in helping people with not only PTSD, but ASD, anxiety, depression, and a variety of other psychological disorders.
Customary Treatment Methods for Healing Trauma
Customary treatment methods for healing trauma, including medication and therapy, mainly focus on treating the mind and body connection. Prescribed medication, behavior therapy including cognitive behavior therapy, group therapy, and family therapy are the among the most common customary treatment methods. While medications do not cure the trauma, they are often prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms associated with flashbacks, anxiety, and depression. Medication may also be prescribed to lessen the emotional upset that may occur during behavioral therapy sessions.
Behavioral therapy is based upon the principle of conditioning as well as challenging a person’s thoughts and behavior. When people experience trauma, they become aversely conditioned. During therapy, a therapist will help determine the various situations that trigger symptoms, confront the thoughts and memories, and work towards changing how the person associates themselves with the traumatic event.
While customary treatment methods for healing trauma and PTSD are often effective, frequent sessions and months of treatment may be needed before people begin to feel better. In addition during a therapy session, some people may become re-traumatized, experience emotional distress, and have a panic episode, which may also trigger a relapse in someone with a history of addiction.
Healing Trauma Holistically
Long embedded in our history are ideas surrounding energy and how it relates to the human body. The human energy field is known by a variety of names such as life force, aura, prana, spirit, qi (chi). Chinese Medicine, Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Shamanism, and Ayurvedic treatments all embrace the knowledge that a person’s energy field holds the key to physical and emotional health. When a person’s energy field is not balanced and their flow of energy is disrupted; emotional and physical illness occurs. When someone experiences a traumatic event, the negative event disrupts their energy system and it takes a positive event to balance it.
Customary treatment for healing trauma focus on the mind and body connection, but do not align or balance the entire body, mind, soul, and spirit. Holistic PTSD treatment methods, including energy psychology, focus on the aligning the body, mind, soul, and spirit. These holistic healing trauma methods have been known to produce lasting results in a matter of one or a few sessions and can work much more rapidly than their customary therapy counterparts.
“Energy psychology addresses the relationship of energy systems to emotion, cognition, behavior and health”2 and “is based upon the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture, although instead of using needles to stimulate a change in the way you think and feel, energy psychology uses a simple tapping method of two fingers on specific points of your body.”3 Many practitioners believe energy psychology treats at a more fundamental level than customary therapeutic methods because energy psychology methods are directed at the health of the body’s energy system and help to bring the entire body back into alignment.
The roots of energy psychology can be traced back over 5,000 years, however, the most recent history of energy psychology came to the forefront in the mid-1960s when chiropractor George Goodheart pioneered the development of applied kinesiology (AK). Goodheart’s technique involved the holistic diagnosis of illness through muscle testing. One of his treatment techniques involved tapping or holding acupoints to release pain and improve muscle movement. Since this discovery, a variety of practitioners including Roger Callahan, John Diamond, Fred Gallo, and Gary Craig have scientifically researched and proven that tapping on specific points of the body can treat emotional and psychological related issues including PTSD and other trauma related disorders both quickly and effectively without an adverse reaction like some traditional therapeutic methods.
Some of the more common forms of Energy Psychology techniques used for healing trauma include:
- Thought Field Therapy (TFT)
- Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
- Negative Affect Erasing Method (NAEM)
- Energy Diagnostic and Treatment Methods (EDxTM)™
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
While different energy psychology treatment methods exist, they involve: tuning into the overall issue the caused the trauma, method to measure your level of discomfort before/after treatment, the tapping of acupoints to bring the body into alignment, eye rolls or eye movements to balance your brain and induce relaxation. Other complementary techniques like the Emotional Stress Release (ESR) and Alpha-Theta Breathing may also be utilized in treatment depending upon the complexity and the severity of the trauma.
“Extensive clinical experience as well as field and experimental studies offer compelling evidence that [energy psychology] works and that the effects last.”1. “The most extensive preliminary clinical study of the effectiveness of energy psychology was conducted in South America over fourteen years with 31,400 patients. A sub study of this group took place over five and a half years with 5,000 patients diagnosed with PTSD and other psychological disorders”. “At the end of treatment and at follow-up periods of one month, three months, six months, and twelve months…. interviews revealed a 90 percent clinical positive clinical response and a 76 percent complete elimination of symptoms with energy psychology alone.”1
All truth goes through three stages. First it’s ridiculed, then it’s opposed, and finally it’s accepted as being self-evident – Schopenhauer
Psychological problems such as trauma and PTSD can involve numerous contributing factors including environment, psychological development, heredity, thoughts, beliefs, activity and responses within your physical body, and a person’s own energy field. For the best possible chance at healing trauma, it is critical that treatment includes the whole person by aligning and balancing the mind, body, soul, and spirit. Some people remain skeptical that energy psychology is a valuable healing modality. However, the success of this treatment method has been instrumental in helping people with PTSD and other psychological related disorders. Energy psychology has been a viable complementary holistic treatment in helping mental health practitioners worldwide treat people with PTSD and various mental, emotional, psychological, and trauma related disorders. By progressively treating a person’s physical, emotional, mental, chemical, and spiritual needs, holistic PTSD treatments offer the most progressive pathway to full recovery.
- Fred P. Gallo, P. (2007). Energy Tapping for Trauma. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
- Fred. P. Gallo, P. (n.d.). Energy Psychology. Retrieved October 14, 2013, from Energy Psychology: http://energypsych.com/what-is-energy-psychology/
Gallo, Fred P., Vincenzi, Harry (2008). Energy Tapping Second Edition. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.