Grass grows through asphalt - overcome rigidity with body-oriented trauma therapy in Bonn

Body-oriented Trauma Therapy

Somatic trauma therapy first connects you with your resources, your sources of strength. What gave you courage to get through difficult times? What is empowering you now?

As you become aware of your resources, the feeling of sufficient safety and stability in the body can arise. And only then the body can gradually process traumatic experiences and return to its natural balance.

What is Trauma?

In body-oriented trauma therapy, trauma is primarily seen as an appropriate physical reaction to an overwhelming situation. This also has an effect on your thoughts and emotions.
In a (life) threatening situation, the body reacts with the innate, instinctive survival responses of fight, flight or freeze/collapse and provides tremendous amounts of energy for this purpose. If these emergency responses are successful, the energy is discharged by the action itself, and the body returns to its natural balance.

If these instincts are interrupted, however, the energy gets stuck within the body. Even when the danger is long gone, the person remains in survival mode. The traumatic energy can be reactivated - even after many years - by the smallest triggers. In that case, the person re-experiences the trauma as if it were happening right now.

In other words, trauma means "a biologically incomplete response of the body to a life-threatening situation" (P. Levine). If this body response is completed, the energy releases from the body and the symptoms can dissolve.

Shock Trauma, Developmental Trauma, Attachment Trauma

There are different kinds of trauma in trauma therapy.

Shock trauma can be triggered by a one-time overwhelming experience. This includes, for example, accidents, natural disasters, experiences of violence, the sudden loss of a loved one or of a job, but also surgery or the diagnosis of a serious illness.

Developmental trauma is caused by a series of recurring experiences in early childhood that completely overwhelm the baby or young child with its still limited ability to act. For an unborn child, the stress experienced by the mother during pregnancy can be threatening. A toddler may feel threatened if left alone for a longer period of time. The result is a permanent feeling of being overwhelmed and constant alertness in the body.

Developmental trauma also includes attachment trauma. Every human being has an instinctive need for contact. The unmet or insufficiently met need for contact and empathy shatters the primal trust of the baby or toddler. Thus, later in life, it becomes difficult to have healthy and nurturing relationships and to be in touch with oneself.

By somatic attachment and trauma therapy with Somatic Experiencing and other body-oriented methods, healthy attachment behavior, clear boundaries and inner stability can be learned or restored.

Ammonite - Overcoming rigidity with trauma therapy in Bonn

Trauma Consequences / Symptoms

If the tremendous amount of energy for the instinctual survival responses remains bound in the body, the person reacts as if he or she is still in danger. The heightened alertness persists until the excess energy is discharged from the body. The body continually searches for a way to discharge the stored energy. A variety of symptoms develops, which can also appear much later.

The mind continuously interprets the body sensations and forms corresponding thoughts from them. In the relaxed body, a feeling of well-being and security arises. In trauma, the brain interprets overexcitement as danger or collapse as hopelessness and produces corresponding thoughts. The world or even your own body is perceived through the lens of your own physical condition then. This can appear as:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
  • helplessness, feelings of powerlessness
  • restlessness, inability to relax
  • overexcitability, frightfulness, hypervigilance
  • extreme sensitivity to light or sound (hyperacusis)
  • impaired concentration
  • depression
  • fatigue, exhaustion
  • lack of trust in yourself and/or others
  • inability to bond, caginess
  • unprovoked tantrums, destructive behaviors, irritability
  • addictive behavior (often an attempt to self-medicate in order to "come down")
  • Burn-Out-Syndrome (a complex event, is often also accompanied by a dysfunctional cell metabolism.)

Even in case of psychosomatic symptoms, for which there is no organic cause after all,  it is possible to break the cycle of unpleasant sensations and the latent feeling of "danger from your own body". These include:

  • migraine, headache
  • dizziness, nausea
  • sleep disturbances, nightmares
  • teeth grinding
  • high blood pressure
  • chronic pain, fibromyalgia
  • gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, reflux, heartburn
  • irritable bladder
  • restless legs syndrome

To prevent the formation of symptoms, it may be useful to prepare for events that can be planned, e.g. as a pre- and post-operative preparation for surgery and invasive examinations, especially if anesthesia is required.

Tortoises - contact to life after isolation through trauma

How does Somatic Trauma Therapy help?

In body-oriented trauma therapy, we work less with the traumatizing event, but rather with the body's reaction to it. The entire story is stored in the body's memory and can be activated and also changed at any time. This makes it possible to work mostly without content or conscious memory, e.g. in the case of early trauma or when the event seems too stressful. It is enough that the body remembers.

The language of the body are the sensations. Through attentive sensing in the here and now, it is possible to listen to the body as it tells its story of there and then. Here, a balance between the resource side and the trauma side is important.

Since not only the happy moments are stored in the body, but also fear and powerlessness in case of trauma, these sensations may show up again in the process. Therefore, it is essential to track very gently and in small steps. In this way, the intense stress energy can be discharged in measured doses The survival response is completed, and increasingly a feeling of safety arises in the body.

Symptoms can dissipate and the body returns to its natural ability to self-regulate. This is often accompanied by a sense of release, ease, and gratitude.

Other effects that may be seen are:

  • increase in joy of life and self-esteem
  • greater resilience and balance
  • emotional balance, psychological stability
  • relief or liberation from pain and other symptoms
  • restful sleep

Here you learn more about Somatic Experiencing as the foundation of my therapeutic work.
In addition to body-oriented psychotherapy or trauma therapy, a balanced nutrition and detox also help with burnout and other stress-related diseases.