Banishing trauma

A TRAUMATIC event, even one that happened decades ago, can hold people in an anxious thrall as the subconscious resurrects the past, psychotherapist Karin Sephton says.

“If trauma lived in the conscious mind it would be easy to simply tell yourself ‘it happened years ago…get over it’,” the White Gum Valley counsellor says.

Panic attacks

Instead, anything can trigger the initial trauma to flare up, causing panic attacks and leading to anxiety, phobias, depression and related illnesses.

“It feels like your foot is always on the accelerator and the brakes at the same time,” Sephton says.

A traumatic event causes the part of the brain responsible for processing long term memory and emotional responses, the hippocampus, to become overloaded with stress hormones.

The hippocampus can’t tell if the event happened years ago, or yesterday.

“It can’t make it a memory: it’s as if there is a 24-hour, seven day-a- week movie running in the unconscious and in the body telling us, it is happening now,” Sephton says.

As a result the body continues to respond.

• Psychotherapist Karin Sephton. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

“And we get stuck in fight/flight/freeze mode.”

Sephton’s been a therapist for decades, but it was only two years ago she discovered The Richards Trauma Process, a goal changer in terms of treatment.

“It works with new pathways into the brain,” she says.

Hypnosis is used to deal with trauma where it’s stored, in the subconscious and in the body.

Australian therapist Judith Richards devised TRTP to get over a horrifically abusive relationship, and included components of Gestalt, and mindfulness and ego-state therapy.

It’s so effective it generally takes just three sessions, Sephton says. TRTP doesn’t go back over the traumatic event, “which is re-traumatising.”

Instead the conscious and unconscious are connected together: “So the unconscious can relax and keep us safe.”

The final session is about moving forward, Sephton says.

“People who are stuck in depression, anxiety and post- traumatic stress disorder can’t think of a future.”

For more info go to karin-sephton.com or call 0409 298 727.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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