Shock Trauma & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The Bodynamic model of working with Shock Trauma and PTSD includes the body in a direct and physical way. The aim of Bodynamic trauma therapy is not only to work with the origin and lasting affects of the trauma itself, but to help the client develop new cognitive, psychosocial and physical resources that will allow greater possibilities for future action. The client will be able to remain focused and in contact with others while successfully containing the high level energies of the traumatic experience.
Since the themes of mutual Connection and individual Dignity are also basic to our work with trauma, our perspective lies at the intersection of attachment, trauma, and developmental work. Many years of experience and practice in healing individual trauma, but also trauma in massive crisis situations (including several war zones), and of sharing experiences and continuously improving methodology within the Bodynamic team, have helped the Bodynamic System develop a multi-faceted approach to the treatment of Shock Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which includes several therapeutic aspects and goals:
- Reducing and ending PTSD symptoms: (hyper-vigilance, flashbacks, insomnia or obsessive thinking related to traumatic events)
- Spotting, understanding and ending dissociation
- Unlocking impulses frozen in the body
- Spotting life-changing decisions connected to trauma – and making re-decisions
- Including the body in a direct and physical way when working with PTSD, using methods such as body sensing, understanding reflex movement patterns, and assisting clients to recognize and let go of body tension patterns by using resistance in movement and counter-movements
- Helping the client re-establish a healthy reflex system – Fight, Flight and Orienting
- Helping the client understand the peak experience embedded within the shock, and the power she or he used to survive the original shock experience, whether it resulted in fighting, running away or “playing dead”
- Helping the client understand, sense and integrate the ME – the part of the human being that is our instinctual system, automatic, intuitive and collective knowledge, when experiencing high energy states such as those found in shock and peak experiences.
Peak Experiences and Transpersonal Reality
Bodynamic explores Peak Experiences as an initiation into knowledge of a transpersonal reality and a sense of connecting beyond the self. Peak experiences can be treated as something positive and powerful by itself, or as part of Shock Trauma therapy.
“Working with shock as a peak experience helps clients find the qualities and resources that ensured survival during the shock situation. In peak experiences there is a state of bliss, a higher kind of joy. It can seem like a conflict to think that intense fear or horror can be present at the same time as bliss, but it is true; working with this enables us to reclaim dignity and strength from the experience.”
Bodynamic Analysis helps people find hope again, and helps them look at the subconscious decision they made during a shock situation in order to reconsider and make a conscious decision on the same matter. This is very important tin order to resolve a particular shock.
Working with a Peak Experience one works with a unique positive high-energy experience that is normally surprising to people. It is worth exploring these experiences because they are full of high intensity and joyful treasured moments. By helping a client to understand the factors that contributed to the peak experience, we create new possibilities towards a heightened quality of life.
Instincts, Emotions, and Feelings
The Bodynamic approach to understanding and healing shock also includes an exploration of the intertwining patterns of Instincts, Emotions and Feelings in the human experience.
Brain research has shown that Instincts are reactions that involve activity in the oldest part of the brain – the brainstem. Instincts are active in situations where the ego cannot manage the high intensity energy coming from Shock Trauma situations, horror-terror situations, and life threatening experiences. The brain perceives a threat of life and death whether the threat is real or not.
Emotions are basic responses used to handle and regulate interaction with the outer world. Emotions are seen in all mammalian societies. They are connected to activity in the limbic system of the brain, including the amygdala and hippocampus.
Feelings contain a mixture of one or more basic emotions and activity in the cerebral cortex that are expressed in thoughts and words.
By studying the relationships of these three layers, we can better understand our responses to trigger events, memories, words and situations. Each layer can be a source of inner guidance and strength, but can also overwhelm and control us.
Part of the Bodynamic approach to therapy is to learn to contain energy and let emotions and instincts be a part of our inner guidance, until we begin to develop each characteristic as a resource, expanding our options for self-expression and containment of each trait in our daily lives.
Recent Blog Articles
Since the mid-80s, the Bodynamic System has developed new ways to work with trauma and stress-related conditions by incorporating the body in a very concrete, physical manner. In this article we describe how we work with the Ego split that is caused by shock.
What is the impact of incorporating work with the body in the therapeutic treatment of assault/abuse? Victims of violence or sexual abuse who have tried to work it through exclusively in verbal therapy often express: "I know what happened, and I have talked it through, but I'm still missing something." "I can't seem to be finished with it." "I still don't like my body." "I'm still scared." Body-psychotherapeutic work with victims of assault/abuse usually enables radical progress. First the client will experience the assault/abuse as more "real" -- the experience gains a somatic and emotional reality. Later s/he will find it is actually possible to release the experience: feelings can be expressed, nausea and anxiety disappear, the stomach becomes quiet again, etc.
Shock trauma can, of course, occur at any time in one's life. Thus it might occur within developmental stages (pre-birth through adolescence). The focus in this workshop is on trauma that occurs within particular developmental stages -- the attachment stages: Existence (2nd Trimester to 3 months): Need (1 month to 1.5 years of age); and Autonomy (8 months - 2.5 years). During these periods, most of the infant's experience is in the sensory motor realm. Spoken language is barely available, and the limbic and cortical portions of the infant's brain are not fully developed.