How can we heal from the wounds of our past? My last post highlighted some of the signs and symptoms that someone is struggling with the after effects of trauma. Even when we want to let go of things, sometimes our brains (and bodies) seem to hold on to them despite our desires to move forward. To learn how to heal, we must first understand how trauma works in the brain and body.
Trauma gets stored in the body
Our brain is connected to our central nervous system (see image below). When something happens that we process as traumatic, this goes beyond our brain and gets stored in our bodies as well because of this connection. When we get triggered, our bodies often have a reaction before we are consciously aware in our brains that we feel triggered. In brainspotting, we call this body sensation activation. A brainspotting therapist will often ask you, “where in your body do you feel most activated when you think about this event/situation?” The locations in your body you feel this, might surprise you. You can learn more about how trauma impacts the body in Bessel van der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.
Important Parts of the Brain in Trauma Recovery
The limbic system has been identified as the key parts of the brain responsible for storing traumatic memories and therefore, healing from them. The limbic system is responsible for regulating body systems, storing memory, handling emotions and relaying information. When something traumatic happens, these parts of the brain label it as such and hold onto the memory.
The limbic system is therefore an important part of how we treat trauma in order to see improvements in daily life.
This is why therapies like EMDR and brainspotting have been so effective in treating trauma, they are working with the limbic system to help reprocess the way the trauma is stored in the brain. Brainspotting also helps to calm down part of the body that get most activated during the reprocessing.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for posts on trauma and brainspotting.
Modern Change offers trauma therapy Durham, NC.