The Five Dimensions of Trauma
Many psychological approaches to trauma treatment consider only a few dimensions of the human experience, such as our thoughts and behaviors. But humans are complex systems; we're more than just our minds. We experience and store information on a physical and energetic level that's often outside of our own awareness.
The mind and body are connected; they work together to create our experiences. So instead of treating the mind and body separately, we treat them together, providing psychotherapy and bodywork therapy at the same time. This approach allows us to address the five dimensions of trauma – the body, energetics, behaviors, emotions and beliefs – within each treatment session.
As experienced therapists, we've found this integrated approach to be more effective – and efficient – in relieving the symptoms of complex trauma, especially in sustained or intense cases where more limited approaches have proven insufficient.
The Frameworks of Treatment
In-session, we may integrate tools and techniques from the following therapeutic frameworks:
SE is a body-oriented therapeutic model for healing trauma and other stress disorders. It focuses on releasing trauma that's become "trapped" in the body, causing dysregulation and dissociation. SE involves bringing awareness to physical sensations, behavior, and affect, and uses guided imagery, sensations or information for any of the five senses to help process traumatic experiences.
Attachment trauma results from a disruption in the relationship between a child and their primary caregiver in the form of abuse or neglect, or lack of love and affection. Attachment injuries can negatively influence your ability to form healthy relationships with others or with yourself.
To build a house that will withstand wind, rain, snow, hurricanes or fires, you need a good foundation. A house, no matter how beautiful, won’t last if the foundation isn’t in place. In the same way, while we’re developing in the womb, and from the moment of birth to around age eight, we’re forming a map of what it means to have a relationship with the people around us. If you learn early on that a touch is a slap, your muscles, your nerves and your brain will codify “touch” as “slap.” When you’re an adult, even if a touch is loving, your muscles, nerves and brain will read touch as “something that is hurtful.” Your body will pull away or flinch because of the encoded message.
In order to recover from traumatic encoding, we have to teach your body, your nervous system and your mind what healthy touch truly is. Those who have been neglected don’t even know what it is they’re missing, though they have a feeling that other people are in on a secret pool of knowledge that they’re not a part of. The neglected person has to learn what love and kindness feel like, not just in theory, but more importantly, in the body.. If you don’t work directly with the body, you can have all the knowledge regarding love, comfort and safety, but you won’t “feel it,” and your mind will therefore continue to “read from the old manual.”
Transpersonal therapy considers how your beliefs, thoughts, feelings and past experiences affect your present state of mind. Understanding underlying factors provides insight into current experiences and informs strategies for change. Additionally, Transpersonal Therapy looks at the spiritual side of your experience and how the mind, the body and the spirit interact and support one another, or come into conflict.
Craniosacral therapy is a hands-on bodywork technique used to release tension and compression in the soft tissue and fascia that surround the central nervous system and organs. The technique uses gentle pressure to soothe pain and release emotional and physical stress. (CST is received fully clothed.)
An ancient Japanese healing technique, Reiki engages the body’s life force energy (ki) through gentle touch and energy movement. By balancing the body’s energy systems, Reiki can be used to help alleviate pain, aid in psycho-emotional well-being, release energetic blockages and promote relaxation.
Trauma-Informed Medical Massage
While many forms of massage promote overall stress-relief and relaxation, medical massage focuses on a specific medical need, with a targeted outcome and plan for treatment. Trauma-informed medical massage seeks to release trauma stored within the body. At the same time, it can be used for specific goals such as muscle recovery and activation, and body alignment and balance. It can aid in the relief of auto-immune diseases and disorders, relieve energetic blockages and impingements, and reduce stress and inflammation.
In addition to what we can see or measure, you have a "subtle body" – an energetic system that's separate from your physical body. You can think of your subtle body as the vital energy that animates your muscles, bones, joints, tendons and organs. Energy work focuses on regulating your energy so your body and mind can function in harmony. The goal of energy work is to develop a healthy “host” or “house” for the new and healthy you.
We also teach you tools and techniques, including breathing and visualization exercises, that you can use on your own. If you're a practitioner of yoga or meditation, some of these may be familiar to you. These exercises are designed to help you integrate our work between therapy sessions.