Trauma Treatment

What is Emotional Trauma?

Psychological trauma or post-traumatic stress is best described as a ‘wound’ or ‘internal pain’ that can often be the result of a perceived threat to safety.

The word perceived is important here as it highlights the fact that an event (e.g. a burglary) can be easily brushed off by some, while for others, the very same event can have serious long-term mental and emotional repercussions.

At some point after the event, if the trauma survivor (e.g. the victim of burglary) feels in any similar way violated, this could act as a trigger, opening the floodgates to a wave of pain or distress from the past. It is how the person deals with this stress that could become an unhealthy compulsion.

Another example is that of a soldier. In a war zone, they may learn to react to the sound of a loud bang or a helicopter flying overhead by immediately getting themselves and their unit to safety. This is a survival mechanism.

In civilian life, however, the sound of a firework or police helicopter nearby is not a potential threat to safety. However, the midbrain does not differentiate, and the soldier is immediately and involuntarily thrown into a trauma reaction.

This apparent overreaction or ’emotional flooding’ to stimuli is exhibited by an extreme reaction, often due to a build-up of small things. An indicator of unresolved trauma is when the emotional reaction is disproportionate to the event.

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Why are Traumatic Memories so Powerful?

One main theory is that people have evolved to store traumatic memories deep in the midbrain (along with the emotions at the time) as a survival mechanism.

If, for example, a member of the tribe was attacked by a wild animal, the theory states that the survivors will have witnessed the attack and stored the memory of this traumatic incident. Hence, the next time there is a threat of attack by a wild animal, the members of the tribe will react quickly in response to that threat.

It is thought that those who were able to react fastest had a greater chance of surviving and passing on their genes.

Events that people most commonly associate as traumatic are violence, crime, war, terrorism, rape, and natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, storms etc).

In reality, trauma can be a number of different things, many of which a person may dismiss as minor.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Trauma?




What Causes Trauma?

Infants are dependent upon primary caregivers (parents, adult family/friends, older siblings) for survival.

In order to form a healthy sense of ‘self’, connection and relationships, children need eye contact, touch, unconditional love/affection, intimacy/spending time, honest sharing of emotion, healthy boundaries and predictability.

Trauma usually occurs as a response to some form of abuse, or incidents where the child’s legitimate needs for nurture are not met. These can include:

Abandonment or Neglect

These forms of abuse do not just apply to being physically alone, there are various types of emotional abandonment where a primary caregiver may be unable to emotionally connect on a number of levels due to conditions such as addiction, anxiety, depression, cultural beliefs, autism or personality disorders. Termination of relationships, suicide, grief and loss are also major sources of trauma.


This occurs when a primary caregiver attempts to get their own emotional needs met through their child. Often resulting in smothering, controlling or blurring the parent-child boundary, thus fostering an unhealthy dependence.

Boundary Violations

There are numerous other categories of abuse: verbal, psychological, physical, sexual, emotional, and spiritual.

Severe Injury or Illness

Witnessing Abuse or Cruelty of Any Type

How Do We Treat Trauma?

At Camino Recovery, the clinical team utilises a variety of evidence-based approaches to trauma work.

It has been found that experiential therapies (i.e. those that involve some sort of activity rather than just speaking) are particularly effective in treating trauma.

Camino Recovery offers this sort of ‘non-invasive’ type of therapy because unaddressed trauma is the key contributor to stress which, in turn, is the key contributor to relapse/recidivism of unhealthy choices in people’s lives. Simply put, when you resolve the trauma, you resolve the problem.

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