Trauma is a term which is often used in the context of major physical damage to the body or in connection with significant psychological events that can lead to symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Examples of PTSD can include car crashes or life-threatening events. A number of Priory clinics offer support, trauma counselling and trauma care.
These events can result in profound psychological disturbance. Such significant occurrences which lead to these issues can be termed ‘big T trauma’ but there are also other types. For persons suffering from such trauma care and after-support can go a long way.
Experiences associated with trauma-
From a young age, children take in a lot of emotional information which is locked in a certain part of their brain. This can influence their emotional development at later points in their life. Some of this can be very positive, such as loving and nurturing, while other types can be more distressing. This is what can be termed ‘small T trauma’. This is not to diminish it but to distinguish it from ‘big T trauma’. Often, the experiences that a child has, especially if they are negative, can be quite profound in their emotional development. These are often not single events but are multiple. These events can lead in later life to people reacting in certain ways and some people with these ‘small T trauma’ episodes control their feelings by using substances or developing behaviour which we call addiction.
How the Priory can help-
The Trauma Programme has been devised to try and help individuals deal with the underlying emotional problems that can develop from ‘small T trauma’. When a person first referred for treatment, the initial problem needs to be acknowledged. This might be their alcohol or drug dependency or behavioural addictions such as gambling, work or exercise. These need to be dealt with first and often require an intensive treatment programme. Once this has been done, it is possible to move on to looking at and working on their trauma. The Priory uses a model of treatment devised by Pia Mellody which has been extensively used in America and is now being taken further here.
Treatment and therapy for trauma
This model requires a person to be abstinent from their addictive behaviours. They are required to have a good assessment and some preparatory one-to-one therapy before being involved in a five-day intensive group therapy programme to look at and resolve their issues. It is essential that once a person has completed this, they have ongoing therapy. Therefore, the Trauma Programme does not work in isolation but is part of a complete treatment package to help reduce and resolve some of the emotional stress that a person carries with them in their daily life. Some people have these traumatic reactions when they are not actively using drugs and alcohol in an addictive fashion but still carry the problems of addiction with them. For example, adult children of alcoholics have grown up in an environment of addiction and have been emotionally damaged by this. The Trauma Programme, which allows them to let go of some of their symptoms, can be very helpful in this type of context.
The Trauma Programme is an integral part of the treatment of patients with emotional problems that might have presented with addiction but have their roots in childhood experiences. The results from this programme have been exciting and it continues to be a useful technique in the treatment of these difficult emotional areas.