If you have experienced trauma, you likely have an intimate understanding of this statement:

“Trauma stops time.”

Individuals who have experienced severely traumatic events will tell you this is true, though they may not have the ability to articulate how. The act of reliving a traumatic event on repeat keeps the mind, and often the body, stuck in constriction, hyper-vigilance, or even in chronic pain. According to Stephen Porges, the impact that trauma has on the body can have even more far-reaching effects than the memory of the trauma itself.

For many people who have been traumatized, the event is bad enough, but the brain-body reaction prohibits people from choosing to adapt in the world. Our nervous system is making our decisions, and our logical brain is not allowed to participate. This might manifest in fear, shut-down, or difficulty in adult relationships.

For some people, experiencing the memory of the traumatic event is a daily occurrence. Life becomes divided – before and after the traumatic event.

How to Move Forward through Trauma and Beyond

According to David Grove, trauma exists on a timeline. If you can envision a scale with a traumatic event in the middle and ticks representing the moments leading up to and following the traumatic event, it is an accurate picture. You might also envision a football field with the 50-yard line representing the traumatic event – everything to the left is before, and everything to the right is after.

When someone is stuck in trauma, they relive those moments prior to the trauma over-and-over.

One corrective healing experience might be the “Oasis to Oasis” exercise.

  • Ask the client to remember the last feeling of safety before the traumatic event
  • Move closer to the event, regulating activation through proper pacing and dosing
  • If client becomes over-activated, move back toward the felt safety
  • Touch the edge of activation while maintaining the feeling of safety

Starting with safety before the traumatic event builds one side of the “oasis” and is half of the exercise.

  • Ask the client to remember the first feeling of safety after the traumatic event
  • Move backwards through time, closer to the trauma using pacing and dosing to control activation
  • If the client becomes over-activated, move back toward the felt safety
  • Touch the edge of activation while maintaining the feeling of safety

This is the second half of the “oasis.” By approaching trauma from both the events leading up to and following the trauma, creating an oasis on either side, a bridge before, through, and beyond the traumatic event ties the past and present together with a sense of safety on either side.

Would You Like to Learn More?

For more information on Somatic Experiencing, Attachment therapy, and working with trauma, please join in one of our upcoming programs. We have two exciting opportunities coming up in the next couple of weeks.

The Attachment Summit is a FREE online event featuring six leading therapists including Diane Poole Heller, Stan Tatkin, Linda Graham, Deany Laliotis and Lisa Ferentz. This online event begins on September 24th, 2017 at 7 pm ET.

Therapy Mastermind Circle is an ongoing online program that features monthly teachings, case consults, demos, and expert calls. The new module will be starting in October. For more information, email tmchelp@dianepooleheller.com to get our updates and program times.