Frances Ross M.Ed Counselling Psychology, SEP, MBACP. Counselling and Psychotherapy
London & Bristol

Resolving Trauma

Have you noticed the following symptoms?:
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias or unexplained fears
  • Insomnia, severe mood swings, hypervigilance
  • Obsessions/compulsions
  • Physical symptoms that seem to have no medical diagnosis (chronic pain)
  • Difficulty learning and concentrating
You may be suffering from post traumatic stress.

If so 'talk' counselling or psychotherapy may not resolve the symptoms. A particular way of working with shock trauma is required. Post traumatic stress disorder is a state of physiology not a state of mind.

Working with Trauma. Desert SceneBecause shock trauma causes a physiological (biologically natural) response, its effect is not under your control. Often we don't know how significant the impact of a trauma was until its symptoms show themselves later (as listed above).

In traumatic shock the nervous system must be allowed to resolve an unfinished pattern. "Humans are wired to physiologically go through the sequences of orientation and fight/flight when in a threatening situation. Rage and terror panic are the secondary emotional anxiety states which are evoked when the internal action plans for orientation and defense are blocked or inhibited". It is the inability to flee or defend oneself that results in traumatic anxiety.

Traumatic shock can be caused by an inescapable attack, physical injury/accident, war, natural disaster, birth trauma, severe abandonment or torture/abuse.

Children as well as adults experience these symptoms but can often recover more rapidly. All that is required is that all the energy that has been mobilized to deal with the threat must be discharged.Working somatically facilitates the healing process by helping traumatised people release stored survival energy and complete interrupted biological patterns that have become 'stuck' in the nervous system.

Both humans and wild animals have intricate biological response systems which become activated in response to percieved life threatening situations.When overwhelmed by a threat where fight or flight is not possible animals and humans enter into a freeze response (also known as immobility).

Animals quickly return to normal by surrendering to the involuntary mechanism that allows their nervous system to 'discharge' their excess survival energy and re-establish equilibrium. Humans tend to override instinctual systems with the 'rational' part of their brain. This 'higher' brain structure blocks involuntary discharge of the nervous system. Thus the body remains in this highly charged frozen state, leaving the body in a condition like that of a car with the brakes and the accelerator floored at the same time. Containing this energy causes the above listed symptoms.

Because physical sensation is the language of the instinctual brain, the tracking of subtle body experience creates a natural opening for the involuntary release to occur. By guiding people gently into the realm of body sensation, somatic work helps them regain the ability to regulate their own nervous system.

About the therapy;

Working to resolve trauma and its attendant symptoms is a more active and contained form of psychotherapy. It involves tracking the individuals body awareness in a focused , skilled and specific manner, for the purpose of moving the person out of the physiological traumatic response pattern.

The way each person has responded to the fight-flight-freeze energies is very individual, and the therapist attentively tracks that persons response pattern, in order to move towards re-establishing equilibrium of the nervous system.

The process is very natural and everyone can learn these skills and move out of the traumatic state.

About working with developmental trauma;

Developmental trauma is worked with alongside the shock trauma. One must understand the impact shock trauma has on the developmental stage at which it occurs, and the subsequent stages. For example a child abused within the family at an early age will not form secure attachment. A child hospitalized at an early age for prolonged periods may loose some of their sense of earlier successful attachment.

Developmental trauma may also be as a result of adoption, neglect, and poor attunement or attachment. Having a broad knowledge of Somatic Developmental Psychology is essential in this work. Completing incomplete developmental tasks is part of this work.

My main goal however will be to develop a core within the individual to which they can attach, rather than attaching to something or someone outside themselves. In this work the individual is learning how to self soothe, rather than to turn to addiction or develop compulsions, which are the most common indicator that a person has experienced developmental trauma.

Other conditions which indicate underlying Autonomic Nervous System disregulation;

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD)
Bi-Polar Disorder/Manic Depression
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
General Anxiety Disorder
Dissociative Disorders

Frances Ross, M.Ed, Registered Clinical Counsellor, has been practicing Counselling and Psychotherapy since 1976. She is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner having trained with Dr Peter Levine and Dr Ian Macnaughton since 1989. She has been working with Trauma Resolution in Vancouver, BC, in Doctors offices, Schools, and for Vancouver Victims Compensation for the past twenty years. She is currently running a private practice in Richmond-on-Thames.

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Tel: 07734 885554

Trauma Counselling Practice

Richmond on Thames

45 Alma Vale Rd
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