Trauma and the Peer Movement
Trauma and the peer movement
What is the purpose of trauma-sensitivity?
Trauma- sensitivity is the first step in the process of changing traditional methods of care to trauma-informed methods of care. It is letting people know that many of us have trauma histories, whether childhood trauma, adult or both. It is letting us know that it is okay that we have these histories, and that we don’t have to hide them anymore, from ourselves or from others. It is about asking that our trauma histories be recognized and respected, and treated. Trauma causes us to have some vulnerability that should be recognized and respected, as well. We can be vulnerable to issues of control and helplessness, which can lead to either passivity as a defense or to anger and acting out behaviors.
Where are we going with trauma-informed care?
We are trying to educate consumers and providers about the prevalence of trauma in the lives of people seeking mental health and addiction. We are trying to change the way people with psychiatric diagnoses are treated, from a model of control, overmedication and learned helplessness, to a model of empowerment, taking control, being partners rather than patients with their treators, and recovery.
What are some of the after-effects of trauma?
Trauma often results in a feeling of being disconnected from you and from other people. Trauma can cause a pervasive lack of trust of others. There may be feelings of shame and guilt, as well as self-hatred, rage and self-loathing. People may experience nightmares and sleep disturbances. There may be addiction issues, with food, alcohol, drugs or sex. People may have flashbacks, where they relive or experience the trauma. The trauma may result in a diagnosis of PTSD or dissociative disorders, or there may not be a diagnosis directly related to it. Learned helplessness can be a result, as can a feeling of hopelessness. Trauma can result in self-injurious behaviors and suicidality.
What kind of therapy is used for trauma issues?
There are many different kinds of therapy used for trauma. Cognitive behavioral therapy (learning to change your thoughts) is frequently used. Dialectical behavioral therapy focuses on both CBT and on Eastern mindfulness techniques to change the harmful behaviors. Some people do very intense trauma therapy, where they remember and re-experience with the help of a therapist. Some of the later therapies are more concerned with the body and are called somatic therapy. These combine talk therapy with techniques that focus on the body. There is EMDR, which helps process the trauma memory by eye-movement and other techniques.