Trauma therapy with Shaun McMahon can help you to overcome the effects of trauma and PTSD.
Many of us experience stressful, upsetting, or threatening events in life. While we are able to recover from some of these events, others leave a lasting mark on our lives. Trauma therapy considers how events in your life are now affecting your mental health and day to day wellbeing. As a trauma-informed psychotherapist, Shaun McMahon offers trauma therapy to individuals who are struggling with the effects of trauma throughout Melbourne.
What is Trauma?
As humans, we are hardwired to escape threatening situations. The older parts of our brain, which we share with other animals, activate when we feel unsafe or highly stressed. These drive us towards seeking safety and security by running, hiding, fighting or sometimes freezing. Often in these states we aren’t thinking about what we might have for dinner, or planning our weekend. Instead, we are consumed and driven by a core desire to respond to the situation at hand and find safety. When these efforts are successful in helping us to ward off danger, our body is able to return to a state of equilibrium.
Sometimes, these situations are inescapable, or the individual isn’t able to do anything to protect themselves. In these circumstances, they become overwhelmed and subsequently experience feelings of horror, terror and helplessness. When the event has finally passed, the brain may continue to send signals to the body to escape a threat that is no longer present.
Traumatic events are not always life threatening, and as you will read below, can be varied and nuanced. What is key is that they disrupt an established sense of safety and physical, emotional or relational security. They are, more often than not, unpredictable and/or uncontrollable.
“Being traumatized means continuing to organize your life as if the trauma were still going on - unchanged and immutable - as every new encounter or event is contaminated by the past”
-Bessel Van der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score
How Trauma Can Affect You
The symptoms of trauma are varied and complex. This is because of the wide variety of events that can be considered traumatic, but also because of the different ways in which people try to cope with trauma. Some of the common symptoms include:
Feelings of anxiety, depression and distress
Intrusive thoughts or flashbacks of past events
Low moods and mood swings
Difficulty sleeping, including nightmares
Overwhelming, persistent fear
Trouble enjoying activities that were once pleasurable
This is not an exhaustive list, and many people are experiencing the symptoms of trauma without recognizing them, or believing that they are the result of something else, such as a medical condition. Trauma therapy can help cope with and manage the symptoms of trauma.
How Do I Know If I Have Trauma?
Trauma is a serious condition that needs to be assessed by a trauma-informed therapist. Unfortunately, the word “trauma” is used in day to day speech to describe events which may not fit the definition of trauma. While certain events may be stressful, upsetting or disappointing, they may not be traumatic. This can make trauma more confusing and difficult to understand.
A useful framework to consider is one provided by Jon G. Allen in his book “Traumatic Relationships and Serious Mental Disorders”. Allen describes a spectrum upon which traumatic events can be placed; on one end is impersonal trauma, in the middle is interpersonal trauma, and the other is attachment trauma. He suggests that the severity of trauma moves from one end of the spectrum to the other, with impersonal being the least severe, and attachment trauma the most.
Impersonal trauma is caused as a result of events that are not caused by or influenced by humans. Examples include natural disasters, such as tsunamis or earthquakes.
Interpersonal trauma is caused or influenced by other humans. Examples of this can include physical or sexual assault, rape, criminal violence, or war and political violence.
Attachment trauma occurs in a primary attachment relationship in early childhood, such as with a parent. This most commonly occurs in the form of abuse and/or neglect.
The Lasting Effects of Trauma
Trauma can alter the ways in which we live our lives and embody the world. It can fundamentally disrupt our feeling of safety and security, which unfortunately can set us up to experience further trauma. However, you do not have to stay stuck in your trauma forever, for even the effects of significant trauma can be healed. Trauma therapy with Shaun McMahon can help you to reestablish your sense of safety and security in the world, rebuild and discover relationships that are nourishing and fulfilling, and orient you towards a new way of being in life.
How Trauma Therapy with Shaun McMahon Can Help
As a trauma-informed psychotherapist, Shaun McMahon offers help to people in Melbourne who are struggling with the effects of trauma. While there are many different ways of treating trauma, such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy) and Prolonged Exposure Therapy, not all of them work in the same way for the same individual. In fact, many of these “manualized” treatments are created with the intention of reducing treatment times and costs, rather than reaching the best outcome for you, the client. The reality is that trauma is complex and varied in the way it emerges and affects each individual, and therefore can take months if not years to treat. Rather than using a cookie-cutter approach, Shaun McMahon takes an integrative approach to trauma therapy, which means finding the right treatment for you and your needs. There are, however, some common phases amongst most trauma treatments which are important to know about:
Step 1: Resourcing and Safety
The first step of trauma treatment is to help you to return to a state where you feel safe. People sometimes think that the best way to cure trauma is to talk about it right away, but without having established safety first, it’s very easy to make things worse. This phase focuses on exploring what safety means to you, how you can return to a feeling of safety, and what resources are at your disposal to help you to feel safe. While this might not sound important, establishing a solid foundation of safety is crucial for the next step.
Step 2: Remembering and Processing
The second step of trauma treatment often entails revisiting the traumatic events and experiences that have shaped your current state of being. During this phase, we will focus on working through specific events of trauma with the aim of reducing their severity. We can return to safety and security if things become overwhelming, as it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself as you revisit difficult events from your life.
Step 3: Integration
The final step of trauma treatment involves helping you to integrate your traumatic history with your present self, and your future. Having processed your experiences, it’s now time to reframe yourself as a survivor of those experiences, rather than a victim. This means telling the stories from the perspective of your present self, someone who has lived through these things. We will review how trauma still impacts you and ways in which you can build a positive future for yourself.
Trauma treatment rarely concludes in being completely free of any symptoms of trauma, as though these events never happened. This, however, is normal. Even the body remembers a bad cold or stomach bug in the event that it needs to fight off those things in the future. Instead, past traumas and their symptoms are manageable and viewed in a different way than before treatment began. What’s important to remember is that trauma therapy can significantly improve your mental health and daily wellbeing, and is better than not working through the trauma at all.
Interested In Trauma Therapy with Shaun?
If you’re interested in seeking trauma therapy with Shaun McMahon in Melbourne, you can click the button below to arrange a confidential, obligation free phone consultation. There will never be any pressure for you to discuss your traumatic experiences in depth during the consultation or even our first couple of sessions. Instead, we will focus on building trust and safety in our therapeutic relationship, helping you to feel comfortable with me.